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Using the Past to Navigate your Future

Updated on July 13, 2017
HealthbyMartha profile image

I'm a Certified Health Coach who wants to help you create the best balance of spiritual, physical and mental health that is possible.

Taking a step back in order to move forward

As a rule I am a firm believer in not looking back. I am fond of the saying "Don't look back, you're not going that way" as it really speaks to how I feel about looking to the past.

But, lately I've come to realize that our past can inform our future if we look carefully. To look backward with regret or to fixate on mistakes is counterproductive and a waste of your time and energy. Perhaps though there are persons or situations that are just waiting for you to take a look and maybe learn something that could help propel you further forward toward your goals?

I think in particular that we often encounter people that come into our lives, but then we lose sight of and never think of them again. Certainly, there are many, many people that we don't have any reason to consider again once the connection has been lost. The time we knew them served whatever purpose and there is nothing more to be gained by thinking about them, or resurrecting a connection with them. I'm fond of the saying that we know people for "a reason, a season or a lifetime".

But, maybe there are people who we didn't move forward with in the way we had hoped, but it was related to timing being off, rather than the person themselves not having anything to offer us. It is this type of situation that I want to focus on today.

We probably all have somebody from our past that we think of as "the one that got away", or that we simply wonder whatever happened to them? Perhaps there are still feelings of love, or maybe you've grown to dislike the person for a hurtful situation. Still, there are others whom you have a nagging sense of unfinished business with.

Let's explore how we might go backward toward some of these people and still propel ourselves forward toward our goals for the future.

Timing is Everything

There is nothing quite like a succinct ebb and flow when everything seems to be in sync and life is moving the way you feel it should. Those times aren't always very frequent, or perhaps they aren't very lengthy in duration.

Too often, life feels jumbled, harried and confusing! We can feel lost at sea with the myriad of demands on our time every day. And, many times we are so harried, so confused and pressed in all directions as to completely miss out on situations and people that come into our lives!

We've all met people and begun friendships, or relationships with them only to find that there are too many differences or issues working against you to keep the friendship alive and you go your separate ways.

Maybe you have a relationship with a man or woman and fall deeply in love. But due to circumstances the relationship falters and each party goes their separate ways. Marriages crumble, people break up, situations devolve into fighting and bickering instead of loving and supportive.

What if the relationship itself wasn't the issue, but the timing of the people involved was off? Or perhaps one or both of the persons have undergone changes that now make a relationship more of a possibility or more likely to be successful? One has to have a certain amount of optimism and a belief that people can change to take this route. If you feel that nobody ever changes significantly then this article and this line of thought will not work for you.

But, if you yourself have been capable of making positive changes in your life, or if you have loved ones that you've seen change for the better, then this just might be information you can use!

As a person who's known great love but who has been single for many years, I work at meeting new people and to hopefully one day again find love. Usually this is done moving into the future with all new people that I've never before met.

But, there are more than one person from my past that for whatever reason I have this feeling we had unfinished business. To avoid looking at that because it requires looking back is to possibly miss out on something that could be positive.

While I do feel that spending a lot of time ruminating on past relationships or spending time in regret or recrimination is a waste and not helpful, there may just be some people who deserve another look if not another chance. Let's take a look at how you might look backward to past relationships to move forward toward love.

Bridging the Future with the Past

Recently I began talking to a man whom I had a lengthy friendship and relationship with. It was a rocky relationship and not very considerate of me as a person. But, there were a lot of positive things that this relationship brought to me and in the final analysis, the positives outweighed the negatives.

It was not my intention to dredge anything up from the past. I long ago reconciled myself that this relationship was meant to be, but only as far as it went. I learned to love myself enough to walk away, and to hold enough love for the man as to wish him only the best in the future. It had been long enough that I didn't even have any regret or sad feelings when I thought of him or heard something about his life.

I never really considered that he would change; circumstances would change, or that I would change enough that we might even talk about a future, let alone consider one. I had become very good at living in the present with an eye toward the future and looking at the past as something to just keep moving away from.

When I started hearing from this man I was skeptical and responded as such. It didn't occur to me that there was any reason to be anything more than cordial and polite and to be friendly. Only over the past few weeks of correspondence have I come to believe that this man actually is undergoing a lot of the same changes that I am! Having made many, many changes for the better in my own life I do believe that it is possible for a person to change!

I do feel it important to see evidence of change in the person who is coming back to your life from the past. To only hear of it is to risk being disillusioned yet again, or to have a negative outcome. But, when a person makes an effort to right their past wrongs, to correct their failings and to be something more to you than they were, don't we want to give them a chance?

It's a slippery slope to be sure. One has to be willing to risk their security and comfort to take a chance on somebody from the past who has perhaps caused you hurt or disappointment. But, what if you don't give the person a chance? Will you always wonder about the path not taken? And if it were you, the person who had done the wrong, would you not like to be given another chance?

For me, life is short and love is precious. Finding another person who you can love and be loved by in return can feel as impossible as winning the lottery! But people do win the lottery and people do find love. Why not you? Why not me?

I've decided to take a chance on the person from the past, in my quest for love in my future. I don't wish to dwell in the past, or return to it, but rather to carry the past into the present and see if together we might create a new reality for the future.

What if the right person was in my life all those years ago, but the timing was the problem? What if I walk away and miss out on having a wonderful, nurturing relationship? I don't want a life of regret, and from experience, the things I regret are the chances NOT taken.

Life has given me a second chance with a love from my past. Will it evolve, or will we get stuck again and fall apart? I don't know. Simply put, it's anybody's guess how it will turn out. But for me, I feel like the Universe has given me a gift by bringing a person back into my life that I had not finished with. What a gift!

Only you can decide if looking backward can help propel you forward. I hope that you won't rule out the possibility. Be hopeful, be optimistic and see what happens.


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    • HealthbyMartha profile imageAUTHOR

      Martha Montour 

      2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you Jody!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      We can never know unless we try. Great hub

    • HealthbyMartha profile imageAUTHOR

      Martha Montour 

      2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thank you MonetteforJack! I agree!

    • MonetteforJack profile image


      2 years ago from Tuckerton, NJ

      I like your hub. It explains - without the past, there is no present and future. There are times when we do take action of taking a step backward or looking back so we can make our present boat smooth sailing.


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