We Can’t Predict the Future and We Can’t Change the Past

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Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Psychology, Relationships, Thought | Posted on 05-02-2018

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[Jill’s Note: If you prefer to listen rather than read, please scroll to the bottom of this post for the audio version.]

Can You Tell The Future? We spend so much of our present moment time trying to predict the future. And when we’re not doing that, we ruminate over the past. We beat ourselves up for putting ourselves in the situation we’re in, and do our best to figure out every possible solution and outcome.

Neither of which is helpful.

All the wishing in the world that we did things differently can’t change the current state of affairs. Learning from our mistakes is one thing, but placing blame on ourselves or others for how things turned out, is 100% useless. There’s no sense in looking back.

Inevitably, life throws curve balls at us.

What’s happening now, is just what’s happening now.

Rather than figuring out how or why something happened, we need to simply move forward. This is best done by paying attention in the moment, and keeping our eyes and ears open for whatever possible solutions may present themselves.

Yet it’s extremely tempting to try and determine all our next steps ahead of time. While this sounds like a good idea on the surface, it’s not actually possible. In fact, it often creates even more stress than the original problem.

Sure, we can make educated guesses. Sometime we even guess right! Yet life almost always manages to twist and turn in ways we never could have imagined in the first place.

So rather than the do, do, do–figure everything out in advance approach–when we’re able to be aware, pay attention and remain calm, situations change.

Inspiration and solutions come from a space of peace.

They don’t come from rushing around like a chicken with its head cut off.

But for many of us, it feels weird to wait.

So we think, and plan, and strategize. We tell ourselves, “If this happens, we’ll do this. And if that happens, we’ll do that.”

It certainly keeps us busy. And maybe that’s the point of it. When we’re focused on fixing, we feel like we’re in control.

If only that were true. If only we really did have control over life.

I’m facing such a situation right now that I didn’t see coming, and I’ve not previously dealt with anything like it. While others are strategizing all possible outcomes that may or may not ever happen, I’m keeping a wait and see attitude and approach.

The info gathering that’s taking place is certainly helpful and good to know. And somewhere down the line, it may come in handy. It’s important to learn what we’re dealing with and how these kinds of things work.

However, it’s clear that every day brings new and different challenges that we couldn’t necessarily have predicted at the start. And even if we did, it wouldn’t have really mattered.

Fixing or changing what’s happening is best done in the moment.

In fact, it’s the only place from which it can be done.

When we allow life to play out as it will, we’re in a much better place to deal with each new twist that comes our way.

This is not about being passive.

It’s about awareness.

It’s amazing what solutions present themselves in the moment when we are aware.

When we’re so busy plotting and planning for every possible problem, we can easily miss something that’s right in front of our face. Yet, when we’re cool, calm and collected, the right people, the right places, and the right answers inevitably show up.

Don’t get me wrong, they’ll show up anyway–whether or not we’re aware. But when we know and trust that this is how things work, we can let go of the wheel. (Or at least our tight grip on it.)

How much easier would our lives be if we could remember this at those times when we need it the most?!

–Jill

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Jill is the author of Victim of Thought: Seeing Through the Illusion of Anxiety


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For the past 20 years, Jill has consulted with companies big and small, and spoken at conferences all over the world. She is currently a transformational speaker and mentor to businesses, individuals, coaches, leaders, groups and organizations. She helps them uncover their natural well-being and happiness so that they can operate from a clearer state of mind and take their lives and businesses to a higher level.


Jill's blog, What Did You Do With Jill? is a personal account of what she's learned throughout her transformational journey. Jill has many "viral" articles on LinkedIn and is a contributing writer for P.S. I Love You.


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Leave Your Thoughts Below(4)

Thank you Jill! I too am facing one of those situations and my thinking has been pretty unhelpful, to say the least. So this was a very timely reminder.
Your last line, “How much easier would our lives be if we could remember this at those times when we need it the most?!” is particularly powerful for me right now.
It reminds me of something my mother used to say. “If you can laugh about it later, it would have done you a lot more good to laugh at the time”
Much appreciation coming your way. x

Glad you found it helpful, Elsa!

Jill, I really enjoyed this post. It’s so easy to spend time in “regret the past/worry about the future-ville.” Our peace lies in the moment.

This post arrived at the perfect time for me, because guess where I’ve been stuck lately?

Thanks for the reminder, Jill.

Glad it helped. It’s cool how things can be so timely!