Imagine getting in your car, putting the key in the ignition and starting out. Now imagine that rather than looking straight ahead, through the wide glass of the windshield, you instead glue your eyes to your rearview mirror. You slowly depress the accelerator and...
Yeah, not a good plan is it?
I want to tease this idea out a bit. It's an interesting metaphor about our daily thinking to this scenario and apply it to how you're engaging your life.
When your attention is fixated on what's behind you (your past), it's impossible to see what is ahead (the future).
As a dear friend of mine pointed out, echoing the words of her father, the rearview mirror is purposely small. The rearview is designed for a glance, not for a fixated stare. Conversely, the windshield offers a wide view of everything ahead.
I want you to consider this and think about how a habit of always staring, rather than glancing, behind, affects your daily thought patterns. Do you regularly, unmindfully, recount past scenarios that haven't turned out well? And what do you do with those recollections? Do you use them as valuable feedback or do you wield them against yourself?
Make no mistake-our past experiences do offer us something worthwhile if we categorize them as guideposts rather than irrefutable evidence of all the ways we we're not ready for success. When we use our mistakes against ourselves, we create a pattern of receiving more of the same. We fail to see what's right ahead of us, or just up the road. We become fearful, we recoil and we play small. Playing small=small results.
But when we utilize the vastness of a huge windshield, we begin to notice things. We see what's in front of us, both directly and up ahead. We automatically deepen and widen our perceptions. Wider perception=more possibilities.
The next time you get in your car, I want you to notice how much you actually see when you sit in the front seat. Notice what your peripheral vision is taking in and what's off to the side. Pick something directly in front of you and note how you can stare intently at it, but that you can also soften your vision to bring into clearer focus objects around it. It's not only an interesting exercise; it's also a relaxing skill that will bring your busy mind to the present moment.
Remember, your present experience is determined by you and your thinking. There's lots of good stuff ahead. Your task it to keep your windshield clean and your focus open so you don't miss an interesting side road with a breathtaking view.
Martha Beck-certified life coach, Equus coach, Penn State journalism instructor and professional writer.