Rearview Mirror is a fantastic Pearl Jam song that inspired this post. The older I get, the more I look back on it, wondering how did I get here. Two song references are in the first two sentences; come on, that’s got to be some record, right?

Bonus points for you if you got the second one.

Anyhow, I got slightly off track; let’s look back into the rearview mirror—not the one on your car but one looking back on your life—well, only if you want to. I’ve been looking back into my rearview mirror, and it explains some of my current behavior. It may explain some of yours.

As always, I’ll link it to health and fitness so you can apply it and improve. Let’s dive in.

What Bought This Rearview Mirror Thing On?

Well, I spend a lot of time inside my head, and that’s both good and bad. Good, because I’ll generate ideas and content for clients, potential clients, and readers to help them improve. Bad, because I’ll look back in the past and try to understand what was done to me and what I’ve done for others, thinking I can change it.

You can’t change the past, silly me, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it all at 3 a.m.

The past is a fickle thing. After discussing it with my therapist at great length, I feel digging up the past is a double-edged sword because you dig up many feelings and emotions you thought were long gone. Depending on your past, that could be traumatic or send you into a state of reminiscing bliss.

My therapist feels that it is worth digging into your past only if your past is affecting your present behaviors. And by behavior, I’m referring to bad behavior. For instance, the way my father handled adversity had a terrible impact on me, putting my current relationships in jeopardy. That meant exploring this relationship in therapy to get to the heart of my issues.

Was it difficult? You bet your bottom dollar, but it was worth it because I’m a better person for it. If you feel your past is troubling your present, it may be worth exploring it because it’s better out than keeping it in. Then, express it in the wrong way.

Here’s a Health & Fitness Example

I’ll be careful here because my mother reads my blog and only does what she feels is best. As a child, my mother forced me to stay at the table until I ate my food. It didn’t matter if I was full or didn’t fancy what was in front of me; I needed to sit there until I ate it. 

It was like a Mexican Australian stand-off.

Let’s say she wasn’t my number-one fan at the time. Fast-forward to when I had small kids, I thought doing something similar was a good idea. But I quickly realized it wasn’t a battle worth fighting, and I read up on how this damages children’s relationship with food, so I stopped it. Forcing your kids to eat when they are full or not hungry is not the way to raise healthy young adults.  

After looking back into the rearview mirror and seeing some errors, I quickly changed it.

Without getting too much on the soapbox, in my experience and my kid’s high school experience, exercise is often dished out as a punishment for misbehaving. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that treating exercise as a punishment may have detrimental effects later. For the longest time in high school and into college, I engaged in no physical activity, which may be due to this.

Or maybe I was lazy. Who knows? It was a long time ago, and my memory is not what it used to be.  

A Rearview Mirror Putting Things In Perspective

The following explanation of trauma comes from the fantastic book The Myth Of Normal by Gabor Maté.

“Trauma is not what happens to you. Trauma is what happens inside you due to what happened to you. “Trauma is not the event that inflicted the wound. So, the trauma is not the sexual abuse; the trauma is not the war.”

Dr. Mate explains that trauma is broken up into little T trauma and big T trauma. Little T is bullying, rejection, job loss, or a pet. Big T trauma refers to incidents of war, violence, disaster, sexual assault, or abuse. Do you remember above when I mentioned the past was a double-edged sword?

Yeah, that not-so-good stuff can be trauma. Here’s something that often makes me sad and puts things in perspective because you never know what someone is going through and how it affects them.

Over 44 years ago, when my parents were getting divorced (which is a trauma in itself), my father was so upset that we sat side by side, and he openly wept and put his head on my shoulder. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what to make of it then, but it was a lot for 10-year-old Shane to handle on top of the divorce.

I vaguely remember going through some nervous or physical breakdown. Even after all this time, this trauma has left a mark and made me more aware of not putting that kind of emotional burden on my children.

But it has made me more aware of what others carry around and how it affects their lives and behaviors. That’s why I try to approach people with understanding before judgment.

Wrapping Up

Looking back into your rearview mirror is fraught with danger and reward. The danger is because of all the stuff it kicks up, and the reward is that if something in your past is affecting your future, you can deal with it. However, knowing the why behind present behaviors helps you change if they negatively affect your present.

It did with me, and now I can’t get the rearview mirror song out of my head. 


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