Reflect on Your Past

Photo credit: Jacob Surland

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt

This month is my birthday month, and each year, I use the occasion to think reflect not only on the most recent year, but my life in general. I have found that my memories are often marked by occasions and the people in my life at that time. One particular event sticks out…several years ago, I attended my 30-year high school reunion in Texas, and was met with a wonderful greeting of my history. After spending a weekend with those friends who have known me the longest, and perhaps the best, I was struck with how easy it was to reconnect and be together. Except for a few wrinkles, a couple of extra pounds and many life experiences, it was as if time had not really passed as we retold our most memorable stories into the wee hours of the morning. There were only about dozen of us but a strong force of nostalgia and love was present.

As I returned home, I thought about the depth of those connections and how those wrinkles we have accumulated are hard won from our many choices, good and bad. Some crevices have been earned from the pain of stressful challenges such as divorce, death, parenting and just trying to make ends meet. Those so-called war wounds have made us all stronger and wiser. Other wrinkles, the good ones, were a tribute to well-lived lives, successful careers, lasting relationships and the expressions of those experiences through our smiles and laughter. I realized these “wrinkles” not only tell our stories but can also be a road map to heal our past, replenish our present and realign our future as we continually rejuvenate ourselves through smoothing out the painful bumps and staying connected to what’s brightly important to us.

As a Life Coach, I don’t delve too deeply into the past with my clients except to examine someone’s peak life experiences in order to excavate their values and better determine what is important to them. By looking at their greatest joys and occasional sorrows, we are able to identify and acknowledge the sum accumulation of their best attributes and who they have become up to that present moment. From there, we can ask what’s missing, what needs to be healed and then start creating the future through intentional goals and actionable items.

Those wrinkles in time inform, celebrate and encourage growth. Yet, if there is painful hurt that has not been healed, then these deep wounds can limit progress and must then be examined and let go of in order to move forward. It is through this process of forgiveness, often of both self and others, that one must successfully navigate the path towards their future.  By facing what holds them back and challenging their limiting beliefs about their own personal history, they can begin to see clearly what is true today and what can be possible for tomorrow. This self-reflection is the key to connecting all the pieces of one’s self: one’s past, present and future for the sake of peaceful wholeness.

Tips for Reflection and Reconnection to Yourself:

The prefix “re” means to go back to the original place, to go back again. There are gifts in looking to the past in order to break any undesirable patterns or life cycles. Consider how these words can assist you in your healing and reconnecting you to you.

  • Reflect upon your life path and how you have evolved to this point.
  • Reconnect to your archival friends who know you best and can remind you of your greatness.
  • Remember to be grateful to those who respect, honor and love you.
  • Revisit your dreams and wishes. What have you wanted to do yet haven’t?
  • Rejuvenate yourself with healthy choices.
  • Replenish good memories by seeking rich new experiences.
  • Remain authentically true to you.
  • Reassess if your current path is still in alignment with your future desires. What’s important to you now?
  • Refuse negativity, mediocrity, fear, old stories, limiting beliefs and the status quo if it does not empower you.
  • Refute guilt and shame.
  • Rekindle passionate pursuits in order to connect with a part of yourself that might be lost or forgotten.
  • Remind yourself that living according to your values is worth it. Don’t betray yourself.
  • Redefine the seemingly impossible. Choose your future path.

There are gifts in looking to the past in order to be present to creating your future. Embrace the well-deserved age-lines and fill-in the ones that need to be smoothed out. Don’t let the past control you, but rather reflect on your life’s legacy and choose to love all of your wrinkles, good and bad.

Coaching Questions to Reflect Upon:

  1. What so you like MOST about yourself now?
  2. What about from your past?
  3. Who are you becoming?
  4. How have you withheld yourself from the best life has to offer?
  5. What pain still exists that instead of healing you are simply smoothing over?
  6. Who, or what part of life, do you still need to forgive? Be sure to include yourself. From the list above, choose one new helpful tip each week and practice integrating it into your life.