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Ahead of the Game


Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash


There have been several instances in my past where I truly wish a time machine were available to take me back and rectify the mess I made, especially the people I hurt. Until such time – which I don’t foresee occurring during my lifetime – the best way for me to atone for those offenses is to do my best not to make similar blunders again. At times, I do look back at those moments with some discomfort, but now I channel that pain into a reminder to change future behaviors.


In some of those former scenarios I have run through my mind’s eye and seen myself acting in a different way. Although this exercise won’t erase the past, it will help me anticipate what

my actions will be when the surroundings bear a similar feel.


Looking back


Curiously, there are hundreds of sayings with the unequivocal purpose of being inspirational and providing good advice warning people against looking back. Some even go as far as demanding you to never look back. I understand the message they are attempting to convey; however, they may also be inadvertently denying some of greater opportunities for self-awareness, understanding, and emotional healing.


The past can be a useful learning tool. Becoming aware of our mistakes and why we made them will steer us toward better choices and more effective actions. Evaluating the missteps and owning up to our faults is a positive step towards growth. And most importantly, when we can look back at the difficult moments where we suffered immense pain or abuse, they can begin the process of healing those wounds, learning to overcome them, and transforming them into life’s milestones.


Those quotes warning us not to look back, are essentially cautioning us not to become stuck in the past. Dwelling on difficult or painful times may cause us to feel helpless or hopeless. Focusing strictly on negative aspects can paint a dark picture and construct limiting borders in our thinking – ultimately making excuses for potentially worse actions and harmful decisions.


Learn to look back as a tool for healing, overcoming, and personal development. This kind of reflection is beneficial for the road ahead.


Forward Thinking


If we could but predict the future and what lies ahead, this would perhaps be far better than going back and fixing the past. Nevertheless, since both these options are off the table, what can be done is to create a successful and flourishing path ahead to the best of our abilities. Forward thinking encompasses many challenges but when the outcome goes as predicted, it is a wonderful feeling.


It is never as simple as writing down what you wish to happen. There are many facets which commonly include other individuals as well. Although the more people involved creates a more perplexing road ahead, it also adds another productive and innovative source for finding solutions.


Forward thinking is about anticipating issues and solving problems, and is never only about predicting a crisis and foretelling doom. Negativity alone does nothing except ignite suspicion and inflame division. It is typically a very frustrated person who can only see pessimism and destruction, and those eager to “enlighten” you to your failings often have more underhanded motives to hurt or damage you.


Leaders normally are forward thinking, and while they may be praised for this proficiency, they are admired and honored for their fair and equitable ability to help and uplift those whom they are leading.


Forward thinking regularly includes helping others. If it is used solely for personal gain, it hints at neglecting others or purposely putting them in harm’s way. Ultimately, it is an ego-centric approach to position yourself for power at the expense of innocent or unsuspecting people.


Raising the Level


As with most other personal development skills, forward thinking can be increased by practicing it and making it a regular part of your life. The past reflection, which builds positive awareness, has already been covered above. Gaining a future ability for forward thinking is, as well, a cognitive process, involving a problem-solving mindset and envisioning where the obstacles may lie.


If there is one attribute from which the entire world would greatly benefit, it would be that of forward thinking. Countries across the globe are being stricken with leaders and factions claiming love of country while demonizing fellow citizens whose ideology does not align completely with theirs. Their aim is to divide, separate, and punish anyone whose thinking goes against what they deem is absolute.


In the U.S., the upcoming election is one of the most divisive in recent history. But no matter the outcome, there will need to be a lot of forward thinking to heal this country’s wounds. No matter who is victorious, there will need to be a common goal and a mutual resolution to work together.


There is currently a growing underground coordinated effort trying to sow strife and discord in many democratic countries. Unfortunately, their success has been fruitful yet unheralded. It remains in the shadows as it severs lifelong friendships, even the relationships which have survived those same political disagreements for decades.


We all can do our part by individually increasing our ability to be forward thinking and expect the same from our leaders. We must demand they work through those differences which ought to unite rather than divide the people they serve. Let us all be cognizant and do our part to build our communities and insist on integrity from our leaders as well as ourselves. It is not an easy task, but we all can work to make it a part of our everyday lives.


My thanks to Drew Beamer on Unsplash for the fitting picture and I look forward to your comments.