Taking time for reflection or looking back is usually perceived as negative or counterproductive. Even in the Bible, God told Lot and his family not to look back when He saved them from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When Lot’s wife looked, she turned into a pillar of salt. Through that story, God is warning us about the dangers of living in the past.
When Does Reflection Turn Negative?
It is difficult not to sit back and go through the long list of regrets or “what-ifs” that we have. Most people have a list of things they wish they had done differently, so this isn’t uncommon. I know that for myself, this list grows longer as each year goes by.
Sitting down on the front porch and taking a long visit with negative or abusive events can be detrimental to present day happiness. This can, and very often does, lead to episodes of depression as well as a decrease in the quality of life. The rocking chair on that front porch may look comfortable but sitting in it can be dangerous. Nothing positive will ever happen with this type of reflection.
When is it Healthy to Reflect?
There must be a goal or something that will be achieved by reflecting on past events. For example, trying to figure out why your temper is always out of control could possibly benefit from a time of reflection. Past events may explain the reasons and help you change that behavior.
Putting Reflection into Practice
It would be easy to sit and focus on all I have lost because of my chronic illness and doing so would require little effort. What I don’t want to do is wallow in those things. My goal in looking back is to choose the ones I want and to fight hard to get it.
For example, I really miss being able to go to church every Sunday and I also miss singing on the church Praise Team. It would do me no good to beat myself up for loosing these important things. Doing this would never get them back and in fact, would probably take me further away from them.
I am currently working on building up my stamina so going to church every Sunday will be possible. Achieving this goal is most important because it leads to the next goal of singing again. I will get these two things back! It will take time, dedication, perseverance and a bit of stubbornness but it will happen.
As you can see, the way you use times of reflection is very important to the outcome. Taking care not to spend too much time reflecting and keeping your goals in mind will create a positive experience in your life.
Have you spent time reflecting? Was it a positive or negative experience?