Opinion: Your future doesn’t have to reflect your past

Using past experience is not a great way to predict how things will turn out in the future.
Using past experience is not a great way to predict how things will turn out in the future. AnikaSalsera

THE mind is amazing. It holds in place key experiences as filters for everything that we encounter in the world and as a sense-making machine seeks to fit new experiences into the framework that is made up of the old.

Did you make sense of that? What this does is create a cognitive bias and is the process from which stems our judgments about a situation and then additionally assists us to determine how we will respond or engage. Generally we're blind to it and just react. If questioned we usually push back using the old excuse that "that's just the way I am".

Thinking on this a little more deeply you would recognise, as I have, that using the events and experience from the past is not a great way to predict situations in the future. That sort of attribution is fraught with risk. Metaphorically, it's like walking backwards into the future, holding tightly onto the past as a child might hold their favourite toy on a dark night.

As a coach I have met many people who are so locked onto their previous experience, their past, that it has become the mirror that they hold up to themselves and others for every new experience they encounter, which then creates outcomes that we would call self-fulfilling prophecies.

Of course they are self-fulfilling! If you keep telling yourself that you're unworthy, or you're stupid, or that no one likes you, or you're shy or any number of other things that are based in negativity or negate your self-image, what do you expect will happen? The answer is as simple as it is straightforward.

Exactly what you believe will happen, will happen and you will continue to affirm your view of the world.

Mind you, it works the other way as well. If you hold the past in your hands, face the future clear-eyed, seek to see the world as an amazing place where the past is simply experience to assist us to improve our decision-making and learn that each new experience, regardless of what it is, is the platform of a self-fulfilling prophecy, that would allow a level of healthy optimism.

That optimism enables us to see each experience as a "stand-alone" experience and enables us greater clarity in decision making and learning.

What are you creating? Which way are you facing? It's worth thinking about.

Nick Bennett is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned.

Topics:  health mindfulness minds aligned nick bennett

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