Lesson: Looking Back from a Future Perspective
From my background, lessons are easiest to understand when they're wrapped in a story. First, the story.
When I was about 15 or 16, I was a member of an afternoon religious affiliated youth group. Within this youth group, I had a crush on a girl, who was about my age. But much to my sadness, she was interested in boys a little older than us, one of whom was part of our group. I didn’t stand a chance, until…
The organization planned a youth group trip to Israel, and solicited for participants. My parents were gracious enough to pay for me to go and experience this two week trip. Much to my joy, this ‘girl’ was also going to go, while her male friend was going to be staying behind. My thoughts raced with excitement as to all the opportunities that I would have to get her to notice and hopefully like me.
During the first part of the trip, I focused much of my attention on her, but I was still unsuccessful in causing an attraction. After one week there, I realized that I was seriously depressed over not being able to win her heart. I began to think about the ramifications of my experiences there, in total.
One evening, I realized, that, because of my focused obsession over this girl, I did not remember very much about my first week on this youth group trip to Israel, I couldn’t even remember what I did that morning or day!
I realized that my mind was mis-directed, not focused. Thoughts ran through my head that said; “Here I am at an age in my life that I have never been before, and will never be again. Here I am in a place that I have never been before, and may never be again. Here I am stuck with stinking thinking, and being affected by it. Is this what I want? Is this what I want to remember about this trip - a lack of success in connecting with this girl of my focus? How do I wish to process (and reframe) my life in this moment?”
I began to reflect upon senior citizens, and, as they age, they have memories of their past that they recall, happy memories, and joyful memories.
What will I remember about this trip? Will I remember this girl’s name in 5 years, in 20? (NO)
LOOKING BACK FROM A FUTURE PERSPECTIVE
It was then that I developed this revelation, “Looking Back from a Future Perspective.”
Analysis: When you talk with an older person, you’ll notice that their stories are very much reminisces of their experiences in life. How can this lesson be applied? It is best discussed with several examples:
Thought Exercise: A Non-Injury Auto Accident
Let’s say you’re driving along, and suddenly you find yourself in a non-injury auto accident. You didn’t get hurt, but your car might be damaged. At first, you are suddenly scared, then angry and upset. You look at the situation, and you begin to think negative thoughts, why me, why did this happen to me? What did I do wrong to deserve this???
Will you feel the same way in one year, about this accident? In five years? The answer is usually NO. If it’s not going to be important enough a life event to remember in your future, then why blow it out of proportion while you’re experiencing it? Minimize the energy of the negative.
Accentuate the Positive
Let’s say you’re driving along, and you notice a very attractive person in the car next to you, or on the bus across from you. Or maybe, you are in a very exciting relationship, and are having a very exciting or stimulating experience with a friend or partner. Will you remember this in 1 year, 5 years, 20 years? Would you like to be able to remember this in your future? Accentuate the positive. Look at life and your events THE WAY YOU WANT TO REMEMBER THEM, while you are still able to look at, experience and capture the thoughts, feelings, emotions, sights, sounds and smells. Capture them the way you want to remember them.
Looking Back on your Life from a Future Perspective Recap
Look at your experiences from a future perspective. Imagine yourself in the future, looking back on the now in your life. Adjust how you are perceiving your experiences. Enhance the positive and minimize the negative vision snap shots for your future, the way you want to remember them. Look at your life, and imagine… “Is this how I want to remember my choices, is this behavior one that I want to remember?
What good choices can I make NOW that I’ll be proud of, happy with in my future, looking back on this moment?"
It’s going to take practice, but this perspective can, and will be positively life-changing.