How Looking Back Can Help You Move Forward

As I was doing some Christmas shopping last year, I came across an cute plaque that had the words, “Don’t look back, you aren’t going that way” printed on them. (I forget if it was a quote or just one of those items with sayings that are common no attribution is required, so forgive me for not linking to a source) I picked it up and almost bought it for someone I was trying to encourage. But then something struck me about how wrong it was for me and what I believe about this life.

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a post about how I had started neurofeedback because I didn’t want to be like the paralytic sitting on my mat only feet away from my healing and wholeness. Instead I wanted to be like Peter, willing to walk on the water and make a fool of himself at times because he truly wanted to know the Lord. In that post, I shared how I no longer wanted to be the person who lived in the past and spent each day remembering things about who I was and the life I had, about what I’d done, about the mistakes I’d make. In order to be successful with the therapy and neurofeedback, and truly move on from living with the full symptoms of PTSD, I would have to dive into my memories and remember things, talk about them, and process them. I would then have to leave them there. Like an orange, I wouldn’t be able to unpeel them and then put it back for someone else to come start fresh with. I was entering a world where I was finally stepping into healing and wholeness; and I was a bit afraid.

Picture of side view mirror with beautiful sunset.

One New Year’s Eve 2021, I shared thoughts about the difference a decade makes, how much progress I’ve made in some areas of my life, and how much I enjoy seeing that progress as well as areas where I still have to grow. In doing so, I realized that I like looking back and believe it can be really helpful when we use it like we use a rearview mirror while switching lanes. Just as you only glance up and look back for a moment when you are about to change lanes, I believe there is something beautiful in looking back and seeing the progress you’ve made, identifying cycles you’ve been stuck within, and understanding why you’ve regressed in certain areas. The progress I made during my time of looking back, and how I have used the techniques I learned to support me in making some positive life changes, is something I am really proud of. But if I didn’t journal, I wouldn’t have proof of that progress. If I didn’t take time to look back for moments, I wouldn’t be able to celebrate how far I’ve come.

“Sometimes like that paralytic, we lie on our mat watching life pass us by. We see folks walking in front of us, going where we want to go, and we reason that there is no way to get to our purpose or that we aren’t qualified or good enough. But sometimes the only reason we stay in the same place for so long is because we are in our own way and refuse to ask for help. When we truly want to be healed and we truly want to move on, it will happen because we will move heaven and earth to ensure we get the resources to make it so.”

— Shell Vera, “When You Forget What You Came Here to Remember

Here are three healthy ways that I have learned to look back, process what I learn and feel, and then move on without carrying any weight or getting too bloated in my head. I pray they will help you as you move forward, grow, and heal.

1. Journaling

I LOVE to journal. I find nothing more exhilarating than crawling around my head and seeing what I can unpack! Give me a quote, a thought, a sermon, a book…anything. I will unpack it until I can’t go any further. I love to just freewrite and let my mind goes wherever it wants to.

Some people are so afraid to do this because they aren’t comfortable with their failures or the things they have been through. That makes it a different experience. I am a HUGE fan of therapy and have no issues scheduling some if I stumble across something that I feel I need help unpacking. If my mood changes and I become unable to move further after prayer and fasting, then I am going to pick up the phone, make an appointment, and have a qualified professional guide me through the walk so I can fully heal.

Here are some of the ways I’ve used journaling to help me process thoughts and feelings over the years:

Fun fact: Journaling was the foundation of my book, When I Stopped Remembering Tomorrow. Through journaling, I expressed my feelings and recorded my memories and was able to put together a book that has helped a few folks and may help more in the future. Read this wonderful review from LadyCee, Carol Hind, which helped me realize that journaling is a way of healing for me that also empowers me to help others.

2. Scrapbooking

There is something soothing about scrapbooking and sealing a moment in time with art and feeling. I have used scrapbooking for myself and for friends. I enjoy looking at a picture and then writing out what was happening or highlighting a few words about how it made me feel. I love to scrapbook prayers and share special moments with folks. Anything that helps me get the creative juices flowing and let my thoughts out on paper feels great and produces a beautiful gift for others.

Here are some books I’ve created:

3. Volunteering

By using my pain and triumph over it, I gave back to my city by volunteering with domestic abuse survivors and inner city youth. By taking time to focus on them and share how I understood them and was once more like than that I look now, I have been able to several youth and young adults process what they’ve been through and step into their voices with confidence, authority, and authenticity. I’ve demonstrated how to be open and honest while also respecting my own boundaries and sharing my story responsibly.


Become what you once thought impossible. Shell Vera quote with a picture of me.

This year has been a tough year, but I have refused to stay on my mat. Instead, I have risen and started walking toward my miracle. Will you join me? If so, drop me a comment or shoot me an email and I will check in with you as you make progress as well.

3 Comments on “How Looking Back Can Help You Move Forward

  1. Pingback: How Journaling Empowers You In Living a Proactive Life – Shell Vera

  2. Hello Shell Vera,
    Thank you for linking to my post – appreciated! 😃
    Enjoyed reading your post. Like you I just love journaling. My favourite journal is the one I keep for recording my observations and interactions during my devotional times. It can be such a blessing when the Lord drops a date in my heart and on checking back I discover that indeed there is an entry of that date and furthermore God has said something significant to me which I’d forgotten, or he is confirming something he has said which I am beginning to question.
    Have a blessed week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Carol! I love when I can look back and see how He made a promise and fulfilled it, or how I was whiny and then became strong. Journaling is so special to me.

      Like

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