August 9, 2020
NAVIGATING UNCERTAINTIES PART TWO
Bridging The Past, Present and Future
By now, we probably all agree that we don’t know for sure what will happen in the future. But, we do know about the past leading up to now and how we have lived our lives.
I can mindfully and confidently say:
All that we have control over is what we do NOW, for we can never change the past.
With that said, however, we can make some use of the past if we focus on the right aspects of it.
For example, in order to re-create happy moments, one must know which aspects, people or things in their life have contributed to happy memories from their past.
I’ve actually written a series on the topic of Setting Ourselves up for Happiness if you want to explore further.
But sometimes our past meets our present when we encounter a sad memory. So what do we do when this occurs?
Learn From the Past and Come Back to Self and Know
When it comes to sad memories, although we cannot deny the emotions—and I would never advise anyone to suppress or ignore them—we can learn from those experiences.
When I encounter sad memories or experiences, I acknowledge and honor my emotions at their full authenticity. There is no point in denying real, raw, and true emotions. If I feel sad, I let myself feel sad by taking the time I need to adequately process my emotions or my feelings about a particular situation.
In a sense, the time I spend processing and gaining an understanding of my emotions is the remedy for my sadness. It’s a healing experience we must all take to heal or at least learn to cope with our wounds that come as a part of our journey in life.
Retrospection is also another important aspect in the healing process, because it is the bridge from our past to our present and even to our future. So when it comes to sad or negative memories, I like to ask myself,
“Given a similar situation, what can I do better NEXT TIME?”
With the keyword being ‘next,’ there is no point in thinking about the ‘what if’s’ in regards to our past experiences. Life is life, and we cannot change our past. The ‘what if’ trajectory only leads us to ‘regret’ and ‘helplessness,’ for we can never change the past. We can only take precautions for ‘Next’ time.
“Life is like a book. There will always be bright chapters and blue chapters. All is okay, as long as we focus on the right aspects in life – the lessons we learn from each page we turn.”
– Mim Chawimon
BRIDGE THE PAST AND NOW THROUGH INTROSPECTION AND REFLECTION
Part of the introspection and reflection process includes the “coming back to self” aspect and the “getting to know ourselves better” aspect so we can be well equipped to maneuver through life’s many challenges.
Some of us might think “I already know myself very well.” If so, I want to challenge you by asking these questions:
If you claim that you know yourselves well, do you still make decisions that you regret later? Decisions that you see could have been done better?
Do you still encounter some repeating “not-so-happy” incidents that get on your nerves?
Unless you can claim that you live a flawless happy life, there will always be a part of you and a part of life that you can learn from. Self-introspection and reflection can then lend some benefits to you if you want to keep learning and growing. This is where your past meets your present. As you look at what has happened in your past, whether that’s an hour ago, a year ago, or when you were that toddler, you can learn more about your present, such as why you’re feeling a certain way, or why you act a certain way in a given situation.
How much or how often should you reflect on your past?
That’s completely up to you and dependent on how much you need this. Some who already have a very happy life might need less time to reflect than those who have a larger gap to happiness to fill. Others might need more time. So, I invite you to go at your own pace. A pace that you feel comfortable with and see fitting for your situations and your appetite for happiness.
BUILD A FUTURE BRIDGE WITH ONE “NOW BRICK” AT A TIME
I hope we are on the same page and agree that we cannot change the past, and that changes and external factors can make the future seem “uncertain.” But …
The good news is we have 100% control over the NOW.
It is a well-accepted claim that how we live our lives determines how our life turns out to be. But a lot of us surprisingly keep forgetting two things.
First, we want to control the results, as opposed to control the process of getting the result.
I can’t say that I blame anyone for wanting to control the outcome because it is very easy to get lured into that mentality if we are not mindful. After all, we are living in the era where the “quick easy wins” sell, which causes us to lose patience and rely more on external factors rather than our own efforts. Just look at all of the “Get the body you want without exercise,” dietary supplements, and the “Make Big Bucks Quick and Easy,” schemes.
Second, we cannot control the results, we can only control the process in the present.
There is a very high correlation between a good process and a good result. Sure, we just discussed the many uncertainties and external factors beyond our control that can impact the results, but that doesn’t change the necessity for focusing on the process.
So how do we focus on layering some “NOW bricks” when it comes to controlling the process?
We focus on the process now, while emotionally and mentally preparing ourselves to leave
some room for uncertainties in the desired end result.
In life there’s always the possibility that things might not go according to plan, which can lead to disappointment. And disappointment is nothing more than unmet expectations. Instead of expecting results, I invite you to focus on what you are doing right NOW.
Focus on controlling the process, not the results. And always anticipate that the results might not turn out 100% as we desire them to be. If they are, then that’s a bonus! But if they’re not, we won’t be blindsided as we have emotionally and mentally prepared for it.
To not be too discouraged from the notion of uncertainties in the desired outcome, I would like to give a gentle reminder that in most occasions, the more effort we put into the process, the higher the likelihood of us getting the “Bonus” we are hoping for. So let’s keep up with a positive outlook, shall we?
Build for The Best. Prepare for the Worst!!
The Future Is Built on Now, which is also the byproduct of the Past
The key takeaway for this part of the series is that we bridge the past to the present through the process of reflection and introspection by accumulating what we have learned, which results in who we have become now.
With an enrooted sense of self and a focus on the now, we will then feel more confident and grounded for each decision we make now. And, with each decision we make in the now, we are in turn building up to our future.
Each moment we layer up the NOW brick, we want to be mindful to focus on the process in front of us, rather than being too attached to the result.
Lastly, if we want to land at neutral to happy ground, we might want to prepare ourselves to leave some room for uncertainties because life may surprise us. And surprises are much more fun than disappointment, right?
Bye bye for NOW. I’ll talk to you more in the future when I share with you how to channel the right focus in my next post.