Why we need to examine our past

I’m an enneagram 3, which means I am oriented to the future. This is something I’ve known about myself for a LONG time. I live in the future. I love setting goals. I love vision boards. I love thinking about all the wonderful things that await me in the future (did I mention I’m also an optimist?)

Yet lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the past. And the struggles, challenges and failures of my past (specifically the past year) that have set me on the path I currently walk.

You know how when something comes up in your life again, and again…and AGAIN, you should really take the time to stop and recognize there’s something you’re meant to learn? {If you didn’t know that, well now you do. If something keeps popping up in your life, stop what you’re doing and figure out why!} Learning from the past and recognizing challenges and failures are meant to teach me and assist in my growth is something that comes up EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Whether in something I’m listening to, reading or in an everyday conversation. The premise of the book I am writing has to do with growing through what we go through…so I guess I’m on the right path if this subject slaps me upside the head every chance it gets.

But here’s the thought I’ve been pondering today:

You know how they say “don’t look behind you, you’re not going that way,” or “there’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror, where you’re going is so much better than where you’ve been”…well, I don’t necessarily agree. I think we HAVE to look to our past to recognize the lessons. We need to recognize those struggles in life had a purpose. Why? Because we will always have struggles in life. We will always be hit with something we feel we cannot handle. Recognizing we have made it through previous trials? Makes it easier to handle the next trials we are faced with.

Personally, trials that felt like a “big deal” 2 years ago would no longer make my “big deal” list. After having gone through external trials (like bankruptcy and security) and internal trials (like suffering the loss of relationships, approval, acknowledgement and reputation) I have recognized we are transitioning. We climbed the “ladder of success” only to be brought down a few rungs.

We are in the midst of a transformation. And it has definitely not come easy {nor do I believe it should come easy}. Yet we are happier now than we have been the past 5 years. My children hear me laugh now. My husband has my undivided attention…most of the time. There is less money in our bank, but we feel “rich” in so many other areas of life.

There are 2 main reasons I feel looking to the past is important:

If I did not spend time looking to the past I would not have learned about the strengths I have, such as my driven nature. I think Walt Disney had it right when he said: “if you can dream it you can do it.” And the reason I believe this? Because I started a charter public school…without a college degree, as a stay-at-home-mom of 3 children, one of which I was still nursing. I wanted a different option for my children, so I decided to get to work. 9 months later, I had created a school. It was incredibly exhilarating and horrifying at the same time.

I would not have learned about my strength as a motivator and the positive energy I bring into difficult situations. A trait I try to use quite often these days.

If I did not spend time looking to the past I would not have learned about the weakness I have, such as my incredible work ethic, which has taught me I am hard-working to a fault. I put work before everything else in my life for the past 5 years. From my family to my health.

I would not have learned about my weakness in recognizing my emotions. I am EXTREMELY good at recognizing the emotions of everyone else…but me? Oh man, I’m at a loss. I can walk into a room and immediately know how people are feeling and what they need to hear…but I can not tell you how I am feeling or what I need to hear.

Our past offers so much potential for our present and our future. There are countless life-giving lessons we can learn. We are not defined by our past, yet learning to ask the right questions is vital to our future growth. I know we will live life to the fullest when we choose to learn from the past and the lessons we were taught there.

What lesson have you learned in the past that are helping you live to the fullest today?

if you're on the right path

if there is no struggle, there is no

goethe

greatest growth

hardest climb

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