If I were to ask you, “What are the most difficult problems you face today?” What would you say?
Is it a difficult relationship at home, school, or work?
Is it a health issue for you or a loved one that now demands your full attention?
Is it a business or financial worry that seems insurmountable?
Is it a past experience that continues to stir feelings of fear or shame?
Let’s face it, life is tough. Competition in any business is now global and seems to appear almost overnight. Families face an endless amount of “on demand” distractions and busyness that gets in the way of quality face to face time and relationships. Communities seem to lack the necessary resources to support a growing number of challenges.
Despite the many challenges around us, as the saying goes, “history often repeats itself” and we have proven our ability to overcome challenges in the past and with the building and strengthening of our character, we have a good shot at not only surviving, but thriving in the times ahead…but it won’t be easy.
There is large body of academic research and, if we are honest with ourselves, a fair amount of real-life experience, that would indicate how we view our past can either help or hinder our effectiveness in the present and future. The view we “see” when we are looking back into our past is critical as we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character. Gaining a healthy perspective on our past to enable a brighter future is a “look in the mirror” kind of moment for each of us to make a positive impact on ourselves and those around us.
When thinking about some difficult experiences and relationships we had growing up, do we still see bitterness and pain or do we see personal learning and growth?
Does the thought of a difficult close relationship in the past bring about anger or have we gained a sense of perspective and/or understanding?
We have all experienced our own unique set of challenges in the past. Comparing our stories is not healthy, but how we view those unique experiences can be fertile ground for personal growth.
Here are a few thoughts on looking back to gain strength for the future:
- Viewing past challenges as opportunities for learning and growth is a proven pathway to emotional heath and positions us for positive impact in the future. Viewing past challenges as reminders of our weaknesses is a proven pathway to keep us down.
- Maintaining bitterness and anger towards an individual or experience in the past harms us and, by direct relationship, harms those we care about most around us today. Bitterness and anger drains us of much needed energy that could be used more productively to reach our hopes and dreams.
- No matter how old we get and how experienced we are, there is always an opportunity to learn and grow. Maintaining a learning mindset as we grow old will help us stay young…and not get so cranky.
Looking back to find learning and growth as opposed to bitterness or reinforcement of our shortcomings is a choice only we can make. We own that choice and can’t give it to anyone else. As we make the most effective choice to learn and grow from our past, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our hopes and dreams.