Learning From The Past… And The Future

Isn’t it funny the things you remember from the past? Of course, some things are valuable and profound, and others seems to be completely random.

I always remember being in assembly in my primary school and hearing our head teacher giving a talk about learning from your mistakes. We’ve all heard this right, but he went on to say that not only can we learn from our own mistakes, but why not learn from other people’s mistakes too?

This made total sense to me. Why wait until we make the mistake to learn the lesson? Why not find value in other people’s mistakes too.

Although I still think this is valuable, I’ve realised that life doesn’t work out that way. How can it? We see so much pain and destruction across the globe but yet seem to think that’ll never happen to me.

Children are disappearing, horrific accidents steal lives, homes are being lost, loved ones are taking their last breaths. And yet, we will moan and groan about the silliest things, hold grudges and deny ourselves and those around us the love and joy we all deserve. If only we knew.

After my brother died so suddenly, I remember being so scared that every night, as I put my kids to bed, it might be the last time I get to kiss them goodnight. I remember every day when my husband went to work, it could be the last time I kiss him goodbye. I worried that anything could happen to us at any point. My parenting became a lot more relaxed and I learned to let go of petty arguments. It just didn’t seem worth it anymore. Did I really want my last conversation with my husband to be my moaning about crumbs in the kitchen?

I felt I suddenly had such clarity in life and I wanted to share it with the world. I tried. People around me were having family problems and siblings were not talking over silly things. Of course, there was a part of me that was angry. You don’t even realise how lucky you are to have your sibling at the end of a telephone and yet you’re throwing away that relationship? I would give anything to trade places with you!

Of course, I know that my loss didn’t erase or invalidate their feelings. How could it? But even when I’d try to share my new profound clarity about life and how blessed we are, a lot of the time it fell on deaf ears.

You learn from your own mistakes because they hold so much emotional attachment and you’re emotionally invested. But you can’t learn from other people’s mistakes because you’re not as emotionally invested as they are.

By all means, take heed from other’s lessons and life events, but you may need to experience something first-hand before you can fully learn from it.

This is a simple adaptation of an NLP technique that you can use to learn from certain events.
Think of something you are worried about happening in the not too distant future.
Now close your eyes and imagine floating ahead into your future self to a time shortly after this event has happened.
What do you notice? Can it be prevented? Can it be an easier process? What does your future self know that you don’t yet know? Perhaps some information you can use once you float back to your present-day self? Is there something the present-day you that can alter or change in order to give a more favourable outcome in the future?
Use everything you can learn from jumping into the future and apply it in your present day life in order to create a future that’s more in line with what you want. The future hasn’t happened yet so you can decide how you want it play out.

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