Rearview living handcuffs you to the past instead of freeing you for the future

rearview mirror

Rearview living means you can't seem to let go of your past, like looking in your mirror too much when you're driving.

It was a mistake I made for many years, but you don't have to be trapped by it the way I was.  In fact, I'd like to tell you how to break free of it if you're doing it now and how to avoid it altogether before you start.

None of us can entirely escape the past; however, we can learn from it and move on instead of being excessively influenced by it.

Rearview living affects your outlook


When I was in my 20s, my past haunted me.  Like many skinny kids, I was bullied in grade school and high school.  I had trouble getting over a broken relationship.  And like most young people, I struggled with low self-esteem.  Maybe you can identify with some of that.

As a result, I lived life hesitantly instead of boldly.  I didn't want to repeat past mistakes because I didn't want any more pain.  Instead of taking a risk, I played things safely--too safely.  I was constantly in "protection" mode instead of "adventure" mode.

Even now, 40+ years later, it's still painful to look back on that phase of my life and see how it affected my outlook.  I kept looking in that rearview mirror, preoccupied with the hurts and attitudes that held me back.

If you are unable to recognize rearview living in yourself, you keep repeating the cycle, as I did.  If you do recognize it, you may come to loathe yourself for your failure to step out in faith.

Believe me, single friend, when I tell you that's no way to live.

You don't have to be a prisoner of your past. You don't have to let bad decisions, old hurts, and long-ago mistakes dictate your future. Beating yourself up doesn't help. It's unhealthy and wrong.

I did something that wasn't like me

Finally, when I was 30 years old, I did something that was completely out of character for me.  I quit my job and went to graduate school.


Let me say I DON'T recommend quitting your job to change your life, unless you already have another job you can move into.  But I had saved my money and had an emergency fund to support myself in college--as long as I finished quickly.

I'd like to tell you everything went smoothly and I lived happily ever after--but that wouldn't be the truth. There was another unsuccessful relationship, a bad job I had to quit, then a layoff from the next job.  I bounced around like a ping pong ball for a couple years. That was tough, very tough.

But very gradually I got out of my comfort zone.  I stopped reviewing all my imagined "limitations" before I made a decision.  I made some real progress.  My personality grew, along with my courage.

But I wasn't there yet.  I was far from where I wanted to be.  I was maturing, though, and in the process I discovered that many of the things I had believed about myself since I was a kid were flat-out wrong.  I wasn't a failure.  I wasn't a loser.  I could adapt to new situations and challenges.

So what can you learn from this?

Let's cut to the take-aways for you:

1.  It's very hard to be objective in your view of yourself. You can't help being influenced by past events, the way you were raised, personal and religious beliefs. Not only do they make up who you are, they also contribute to who you think you are.

2.  Keep questioning. In light of the point above, I questioned my beliefs about myself. I suspected many of my judgments about myself were flawed, and I was determined to uncover a realistic picture of who I am.

3.  Your point of reference is the Bible.  Can you trust your own opinion of yourself? Can you trust the views of other people? No. But you can trust God's view of you, and that is clearly found in the Bible.  It removes the rose-colored glasses but at the same time shows you positive things you never imagined.

Asian woman

4.  God's tremendous love for you is the most powerful motivating force in the world.  When you understand, as I finally did, that you are passionately and relentlessly loved by God, it gives you a sense of confidence and worth that with his help, you can face any challenge life throws at you.

5.  The acceptance of God's love gives you tremendous hope for the future.  I wake up every morning excited about what God has in store for me.  Yes, I still get discouraged at times and have battles with depression, but I have stopped rearview living.  I look through the windshield at what's coming up.  With God as my Father and Protector, I am enjoying a thrilling life.  My prayer is that you will too.

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