This quote from the Jack’s Winning Words blog got me to thinking about how we learn from the past.
“How we handle what’s ahead of us will be determined by what we learned from everything that’s behind us.” (Craig Lounsbrough)
The key word in that quote is “learned”. All of us have some time behind us, some of us more than others; but, did we learn from the things that are in our past. Some are destined to repeat the mistake of their past simply because they did not take the time to try to learn from those mistakes.
Learning is not necessarily an automatic process. There are some things that our brains process without us giving it a lot of thought, like not touching a hot stove because it will burn us. Most things that we should be learning from do require that we stop ad think about what just happened and what we can learn from it.
Some things that we learn from also require that we admit that we were wrong in our decision making process and require us to examine the “knowledge” that we had at the time upon which we based those decisions. That can be an ugly process because t often brings us face-to-face with our prejudices and baseless fears. Learn from that.
If you stop and think about a situation and the answer to your questioning about why you reacted as you did is ”I did not trust that person or I feared that person because their skin is a different color than mine”, then you have come face-to-face with your own prejudices. Learn from that.
Maybe, when you think about something that just happened that went wrong, you will find that you made some bad assumptions or based your decision on inaccurate or untrustworthy data. Learn from that.
The key to learning is always to stop and think about it. Often you will find that your knee-jerk reaction to a situation is not what you would do once you have had time to consider your response. Maybe just learning to take the time to think is the real learning in that.
Maybe it would help if you actually made time each morning to think about the things that happened yesterday or the day before and ask yourself, “What can I learn from that?” Perhaps you should just add to your morning prayers, “God, please help me learn from the past, so that I might be a better person in the future.”
Never stop learning and never stop trying to learn from your own past. That way you will be better prepared for what is ahead today.