What if you could wake up and start your life over again? What if you possessed the ability to hit a “reset button” time you made a mistake, misstep or passed up an opportunity to do or say something that you didn’t have the courage to initially? What if you could have one last minute with a lost loved one to say everything that was on your heart to share with them? If you have lived long enough, I’m sure you’ve said “YES” to at least one of these fantasies of time travel. Yet, the reason we aren’t able to do the above is because we are not supposed to. If we never experienced or lived a day beyond these moments of pain and discomfort to give analysis to them and how they affected us, we would not be the individuals we are or where we are at this dispensation. Whether we realize it or not, each time we live past a moment of pain we defy the laws of failure by surviving it! As the saying goes, “If it didn’t kill us, it can only make us stronger”. If we changed one thing in our past, it could very well lead us somewhere different, worse or possibly even to our own demise.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we won’t ever face moments like this, where we go back in our minds and see something we could have done differently. If we are still breathing we are in a position of growth and development. However, it is in our ability and even desire to recognize this moment as our most important chance at controlling the outcome of how we allow this to either make us or break us. How we bounce back from a setback could be the difference between obtaining a greater reward or allowing our previous failures to be a mental prison, plaguing ever millisecond of our lives rendering us unproductive, unfulfilled and ultimately unhappy.
The most vivid illustration that comes to mind regarding this phenomenon is the 2004 film “The Butterfly Effect”, which tells the story of a young boy, Evan, who experiences extreme levels of pain and misfortune throughout his childhood that involved not speaking up or taking action when he should have, which lead to the death of three people as well as the molestation of his childhood friend. He suppresses these memories until one day he opens up his journals, which contain each painful experience. He decides to visit the childhood friend who was molested in effort to retrieve his memories. As a result, she takes her life. Naturally Evan blames himself for what happened to her, which leads to his growing obsession to try to “go back” and change what took place. “If I can somehow go back to the beginning of all of this, I would be able to save her”, he says.
As it relates to the devastation we’ve experienced in life, we could easily replace “save her” with millions of our own desired outcomes. If you recall the events that follow throughout the movie, Evan’s inability to accept the actual effect leads him into a state of mental instability, where all of these obsessive urges to “correct” things torment him and lead him into worse predicaments than before. Interestingly enough, his father who suffered from the same “illness” was committed to an insane asylum, because he was considered unfit to function in society. This should have informed Evan of the possible outcome if he continued down that path. Malcolm X said it best, “Of all our studies, history is best qualiﬁed to reward our research.” If we could study the results of our past as a learning tool, we would understand the importance of redirecting our energy to the present time, to control how our future plays out. Giving undeserved energy to the past zaps our ability to produce a positive present condition and future.
It is believed that to live in the past is considered psychotic, to live in the present is neurotic and to live in the future is considered sanity (L. Ron Hubbard). Therefore, it is healthier for us and an aid to our mental strength to envision what we desire in our future and see ourselves achieving it than to dwell on our past of which we cannot change. It is one thing to make efforts to resolve our past but an entirely different thing to willfully stew in a period of time we are unable to “redo”.
Each day we are blessed to wake up is our chance to begin anew, say what needs to be said and do what need to be done. At this moment, you are in control.
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