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Looking Back for the Future

Today I’m thinking about why some people think it’s such a bad thing to look back on the past. I understand that we should always try to move forward, look towards the future, and leave the memories that make us sad in the past.

However, I do think there are some good reasons to look back on the past.

And I’m not just talking about nostalgia, although that is a big part of it. But I’m also talking about something I say to myself a lot, which helps me get through everything. And that is: “You’ve gotten through this before, you can do it again.”

Often when I find myself struggling with a problem, like a relationship falling apart, a large assignment or project due, or just a day-to-day hassle, I like to reminisce on past instances during which I got through similar problems. For example, if I’m struggling in a relationship going south, I think about how I got over ex’s that I never thought I would.

In an article for Psychology Today called “5 Surprising Reasons You Should Look Back on Your Past,” Dr. Juliana Breines mentions this kind of looking back. She says, “It makes the future look brighter.” She expands on this idea, saying, "Contrary to the idea that nostalgia can leave us stuck in the past, looking back fondly seems to help us look forward optimistically.”

I think this idea goes along with my tactic of looking at the past as a way to remind myself that I can get through anything. If I look back on my past experiences in a way that I’m proud I got through everything I got through, it will inspire me to keep pushing through the problems I’m currently facing.

And eventually, the problems I’m currently facing will be in the past.

It’s important to keep creating new memories and keep working towards a better future for yourself. But there’s nothing wrong with using your past as inspiration to keep moving forward.

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