Where to focus? Past, Present or Future…

More and more often as we grow up, I notice that we are likely to discuss and reflect on the past. Our experiences, aspirations, memories and friendships. With social media our ‘selves’ are being pristinely preserved for us to re-live – (Facebook’s ‘on this day’ feature is probably one of the most obvious examples of this). Whilst our memories of the past may be amended or altered over time, these records are never changing and hold a lasting imprint of who we were. Looking back, it may be difficult to imagine that we were those people, or why we cannot recreate some of those events today.

Working in my field I come across many people who have suffered, lost or experienced something which continues to impact them; be it consciously or subconsciously, good or bad. Looking into my own life, I can also think of events that have made me the person I am today. The events themselves may range a whole heap of emotions, because pain and loss is engrained alongside joy and happiness.

To overcome difficulties, psychologists may suggest going to the beginning, the root of the problem and discovering why you did what you did, or what you/or someone else was trying to achieve. That nostalgia with a little interrogation can help you change your perspective. I’m not against this idea at all. I see benefit from looking back and reframing the image of our past.

Then again, when working with younger people, some of whom have their whole lives ahead of them, I begin to think of a different approach. Most of these children are not held down by a tangled past but are likely to enter a future that will be interrogated by more than just themselves. They will need to compete with the opinions of whoever they allow into their online world as well as their real one, whilst discovering and deciding who they are.

With this in mind, I think about an approach that encourages:
– being present in the hear and now,
– understanding our emotions and behaviour,
– taking responsibility for whatever we are doing,
– and for each person to envision their future and strive towards it

It would involve giving youth the space to build their self knowledge, and may take time. It would also vary from person to person to account for their life’s challenges. Yet I wonder, in the age of social media and the internet, if this is not a skill base that will help them accept their history (their past) as it is made. Not negating any hardships or challenges, but knowing that they have no regrets and have learnt from each situation by being conscious of how they encounter life.

A skill base that would be preventative and reflective of the society we want to live in… As important as history is, the future is ever changing, and more often than before we need individuals to have the convictions of their beliefs and actions. We are more accountable than ever before and we should rise to the occasion. Revelling in individuality, we should give young people the room to become the best versions of themselves, with the understanding behind their choices, so that they are not only accountable but aware of the impact they are having on their world.

These are just some thoughts that have developed over the last few months… They’re still evolving, and will continue to with every unique child I meet… I hope each of them will be able to look back on their lives completely satisfied with who they are, what they have done and where they are going…

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