Spring is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts. As the trees and flowers grow around us, it’s a great time to take a look at how we can grow personally as well. One thing that can “stunt” our personal growth is the habit of constantly looking in the rearview mirror of life, dwelling on past hurts and hangups. As the saying goes, it’s hard to move forward while staring in the rearview mirror. If you see more than your most recent past in that mirror, you may be parked! There’s a lot of life waiting for you beyond the windshield – NOW is the time to hit the gas. 

Here are a few ways to put that car in drive and start moving toward your future:

Acknowledge The Past
Another helpful saying is, “whatever we resist, persists.” Don’t deny what’s happened in the past and don’t try to ignore it. Do periodically look back on your life and past events with the understanding that some emotions may resurface. That’s OK. Those feelings and emotions are valid, so acknowledge them, but don’t dwell on them. They’re a part of you, but they aren’t what defines you. Focus on processing them and healing.

Appreciate The Past
Most of us have things in our past that aren’t so easy to appreciate. Try thinking about those things objectively as you view them from the safety of the present moment.  What did you learn from them? How have those lessons made you stronger, more resilient, or more compassionate? How have they shaped who you are today? In all of the ups and downs and difficulties over the years, appreciate the skills and growth you’ve gained by having had those experiences. You can’t change them, but you can choose to make good use of them.

Be Hopeful About the Future
Being hopeful about the future literally takes your mind off of the things from your past that would hold you back. Rather than fighting your thoughts of the past, simply be aware of them, acknowledge them, and replace them with hopeful thoughts about the present and the future.  Hopefulness is essentially an unconditional form of expectation and lets your brain know you want it to focus on the positive things you want to experience. When you set your mind on hope for what will be and gratitude for what is, you won’t have the time or the desire to worry about what’s already past.  

If you’re stuck staring into the rearview mirror, remember you’re the one in the driver’s seat!  You can choose to shift gears from Reverse to Drive at any time. Do it often enough, and it becomes a habit.  Practice that habit enough, and it becomes who you are.