Sunday, March 24, 2013

Life In A Rearview Mirror

Would you drive down the road paying more attention to your rearview mirror (where you’ve been) than to your windshield (where you are heading)? (Ok, so some of you with sharp wits will say, “yes I would, if I were driving backwards”) And you are right, but you also make my point even more valid. How? Because we naturally look in the direction we are headed. Now imagine you are on a street with cars and people all around you. If you feel a big bump like you rolled over something, the immediate reaction is usually to look at your rearview mirror to make sure you didn't hit somebody, human or animal. If you keep worrying about it, unless you pull over to take a look, what is going to happen if you keep looking backwards while driving forwards? It is very likely you will cause an injury to whatever is in front of you. Maybe it is another car that noticed a stop sign or red light and came to a stop. But you are still looking backwards. Maybe it is a child on a bike that loses their balance and swerves in front of you. Maybe it is a dog or cat that runs right in front of you.

My point? Most drivers know that watching where they are going is more important than looking at where they’ve been. It is something so simple most would agree it is a “no brainer.”  Yet in other facets of life, people act as if the best thing to do is to look at the rearview mirror. Specifically I am talking about people that worry about what has happened so that they never move forward in life. These are not pulling over, stopping to see if they need to do something. No, their life continues on down the road, but they set their focus on the past of what happened and are crippled by worry, depression, and confusion. The sooner they stop living their life in the past and start concentrating on the life in front of them, accepting that whatever happened is not nearly as important as what can and will happen, they will find themselves a lot more content and happy.

I knew a person that really frustrated me for the extent to which they carried this. They made constant excuses for the way they endlessly, needlessly, unproductively worried. They convinced themselves that the reason that their life was the way it is, is due to their youth. Yet this person was in their 70’s. At one point I stated, as gingerly as possible, “You are now over 70 years old. Don’t you think it is about time you stop blaming the first 10 years of your life for all that has happened to you?”

But that person is not alone. I’ve met others that blame what happened in their youth for the way they are. In contrast, I’ve met others that rose above their past, determined that it would not define who they want to be. These latter ones are the ones that are driving their life, looking through the windshield at what is coming toward them. Yes, just like in actually driving, we all will continue to encounter road conditions that calls for focused reaction.  But we cannot drive down the road worrying that a ball may roll out, an animal or child may run out, or another car that pulls out in front of you. What we can do is slow down in residential areas, scan the road in front of us for potential dangers and keep paying attention. Same with living our life. Worrying about what may happen can only cripple us. Learn from your past, apply what you know and make decisions based on your experience. If you need advice, do not be like the stereotypical male that refuses to ask for directions. Seek out those you know have had success in make good choices in life and ask for their insight in examining your options. The decision is ultimately always yours to make, but it can only help you develop wise decision making to get input from others that “have been there, done that.”

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