I know it is said many times not to dwell on the past. For the most part, that is a good rule of thumb. I would like to present the idea that it is beneficial when we are going through a rough time in life to help us appreciate what has made us who we are now.
It is also of value when you just want a chance to be thankful for past events. Maybe you are thankful they are over or maybe it is just that you feel grateful for people or events in your life. It is not something we should do all the time, but once a month or so, it can be helpful.
Our life can be viewed as a tapestry. A woven work of art that takes time and many different threads, colors, and patterns. My father used to tell me that all the time when I was going through a hardship. Wait to see how it looks in a few years and you may even appreciate these times. The problem is we often forget how we felt at times or what our thoughts were. The brain often hides the pain of our past as a safety mechanism. That has a purpose, but it doesn't allow us to see how we got to where we are now with as much clarity. So how can we really view this tapestry and gain insight from it? This article will give you one key idea on how to do just that.
The best thing we can do is to journal our life. Let this become a practice that is habitual. Write down daily what has happened in your life. Even if it is just a few sentences. There are a few items you need to write down to really gain insight from your past life in the years to come. Let us explore some of these items.
The first thing you need to journal is what significant events happened that day. That is not always easy as not everyday has a significant event. In that case you can just jot down the basics. The point is, do not let a significant event go undocumented. Maybe you met someone who really offered you something of value, maybe you started a new job, maybe you did something for the first time. Anything that is significant to you is worth putting down. This is basically a good place to put what decisions you made that day. Again, any thing of significance to you.
The second thing you need to write down is how you felt. This is important. Be specific when you write this down. It may feel awkward at first, but when you look back on your journal, knowing how you felt is sometimes as important as the events that happened. Maybe you felt fear or hope over a new job. Writing it down will show you how you overcame that fear and proceeded with the job or if you let fear over take you and didn't go through with the job. Seeing how you felt will show you how you handled your emotions. Either way, you can learn from these emotions and more importantly, how you acted on them.
The third item is to write down your thoughts. What were you thinking about that day? These thoughts shape our decisions so it is vital to explore them. There are no right and wrong thoughts to jot down. The only key here is to be honest and explain in detail what you thought and even why you thought this way. Again, this will really add value to your review of your journal months and years later.
The final area of the journal entries should be what you hope to do with your life. This could concern any area of life you are thinking about that particular day. Maybe you want to further your education or find an area of employment you feel is right for you. You could include relationships, financial goals, fitness goals, or anything you value.
That is really all the journal is. Those four areas of life. By writing down what your life was and how it felt you give yourself a chance to review it months and years later. This gives you an open door to analyze mistakes you made, obstacles you overcame, and people who were or are significant in your life now. It always shows you what goals you followed through with and what goals were just fleeting desires. This really helps you get to know who you are and what it is you value. Every few months or so give your journal a look. I will touch on this below. Slowly but surely you start to see the tapestry become more clear and more filled out. You can learn from achievements and failures. More importantly, you start to see the beauty and value of your life. You come to value those who have loved you and helped you in life. All of us have a story to be told and it is vital that we understand our own story.
The last part to all of this is to review the journal. I would say look at a few pages from the past once a week as a way to just check up. I would review the full journal one time a year. Obviously this will take time as you won't review the journal much for the first year as there won't be much there. As the years go on, you will have a greater resource to read and analyze. This is a gift that grows with every entry. Be honest in the journal, but be kind to yourself. You may question yourself 'What the hell was I doing or thinking?' Try not to view it in harsh terms. Give yourself a proper critique if necessary, but keep it in perspective. You have learned from the past mistakes so give yourself a chance to enjoy the triumphs as well. I wish you well on the journey of writing. It is a great resource.
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