Why focusing on the past too much can get in the way of your future...
It is said things happen for a reason, but when tragedy hits, a true love is lost, or another unexpected twist of events occurs, it is often difficult to understand the "why" of it all. Reconciling with thoughts of what could have been if things worked out as you'd planned or hoped is not always easy.
The reason being, we can't always control what hand of cards life decides to deal us and, as a result, we are forced to reckon with the hand we are dealt. The thoughts of what could have been, had another hand been offered, is intriguing, but it can't change the reality of what's already occurred.
There are a few factors we can control. At each turning point in our lives we come to a crossroads and must choose which path to follow. Sometimes we make the 'right' choices, and other times we make the 'wrong' ones. As a result, we might travel a less than optimal path.
Reflecting on what could have been can't change where we've traveled because it is in the past -- which cannot be undone. The upside of reflecting on past people and events in life is that they can help carve and/or shape your future. This happens through the wisdom gained from the paths traveled. Wistful thinking doesn't offer this insight because it keeps us locked in a place where time stands still and doesn't allow us to move forward.
Another facet to consider are the choices of other people. Often the decisions made by others impact our lives and forever alter the paths we follow. Sometimes this is a good thing, other times there is potential to lead down a darker path. Timing seems to be a pivotal issue.
Have you ever met someone in your life you were immediately drawn to? Someone with whom you bonded so naturally and felt an immediate strong connection with from the first moment you met? Love at first site perhaps? Not necessarily even a love connection, but a strong bond nonetheless. For reasons due to 'timing', the relationship doesn't work out despite obvious strong feelings for one another and you are forced to part ways.
When situations like this occur it is sometimes wistful to think about what could have been had situations been different or the relationship had occurred at another time in life. Yet this wistful thinking on what may have been doesn't change the reality of it all.
If anything, getting lost in the past has a tendency to imprison and trap people in a place that prevents a person from living freely due to a preoccupation with a past that couldn't be. As a result, this can have a domino effect and a tendency to impact other relationships.
Despite the what ifs, things in life have a strange way of working out. Yes a terrible or life changing event may have happened, and while things are different, a new path can be carved. Or a love may have been lost, but happiness and true love can be found with another.
We can only control the immediate space surrounding ourselves and that's about the scope of control we have. It doesn't serve a purpose to continually wonder what could have been, but it is proactive to look at what can be as we forge ahead into the future.
While it is hard not to reflect on thoughts of what could have been had different paths been chosen or alternate decisions made, innate thoughts on what could have been doesn't really serve a purpose in the long run. We cannot go back in time and make changes, but we do have the power to shape our lives.
Although, sometimes it is nice to think about what would be changed if it was possible.