Be Careful When Looking Back

As a therapist, I am always reluctant to agree with the line of thought that encourages anyone to “forget about the past.”

Looking back is an important element in better understanding our story – we often need to understand how something developed, what patterns were created and why we are often governed by certain dynamics or core beliefs as this helps us to accept. It is an important step in giving ourselves permission to move to change.

The amount of “aha moments” that I have been privy to witness as a therapist, has almost always come from exploring the past; it is often how the path to structural change is opened to us.

One word of caution that I will often mention comes when a client begins to blame themselves for “not having known better.” Putting on our hindsight glasses is important, but we must do it with the knowledge of who we were back then, and the circumstances of our lives at the time. When looking back, it is important to enlarge our insight to include these elements, or we run the risk of allowing tunnel vision and self-blame to push objectivity out of the way.

Our goal in looking back isn’t to blame – it is to understand. That’s all. We can’t fix what happened, we can’t change the past, we can’t undo choices. But we can take that information and how it made us feel to move towards changing how we go forward today; to make healthier choices, make repairs if necessary, unlearn old habits, reinforce better ones.

Look back; when we enlarge our insight when doing so, we are being fair to ourselves and others and the process of forgiveness begins. 🙂

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