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  • Writer's pictureJames DeMile


When does Hindsight, become Foresight?

Hindsight is like a coin, with the flip side being Foresight. You should be able to learn Foresight from Hindsight.

I hear it all the time, “hindsight” is always 20/20 vision. Why do experiences have to teach us how to do it better next time? Do mistakes make us smarter, or is being smart, the way to limit mistakes? Age is a great teacher. Talk to anyone who you consider “old”, and they can tell for hours, on how they would have done things in life differently, if they were your age. What is sad, is they are not only sharing their experiences, they are also giving you knowledge! Knowledge that you probably smile at, shake your head, and are glad you are not them. But, unless you learn from their experiences, you are “doomed to become them”. Too often “hindsight” lets you know you made a mistake, in which you knew better. Your logic, common sense, or memory of someone’s shared experience, kicked in too late. How many similar situations occur in our lives that parallel those we know. School, social, marriage or our own daily circumstances are sources that cause decision making opportunities. At what point do we stop and learn from our mistakes or the mistakes of others… is up to you. There are two basic ways to replace “hindsight” with “Foresight”

First, is to learn how to listen. Divorce taught me to listen! In reflecting why I got divorced, I learned I really never heard the approaching sounds of a problem. I was too caught up in my own world to hear the warning signals. When I finely reacted, it was too late. Only then, did I remember advice I had from friends who had gotten divorced. My thoughts were filled with “hindsight” at what I should have done. I was lucky, because I grew from that dark incident and realized the importance to be more aware of when things were going wrong, not only in marriage, but in any area essential to me. I became a good listener. By knowing what was significant in my life, I could catalog any good advice, from someone who was sharing their “hindsight” in that area. It did not take any real effort, only paying attention, and seeing the value of their thoughts. I then stored it in my memory banks, for future reference. Want to “live smart”, listen more closely to someone “older” sharing their life’s journey. One, it will make them happy to have a good listener, and two, it may give you “foresight” that will save the frustration you feel from “hindsight”.

The second way to limit “Hindsight” is to learn the “Lessons in Futility”. How many times, each day, do we get upset, angry or frustrated, over things or events out of our control. We look back at the situation and understand we were the cause of the negative feeling, not the circumstances. We allowed this experience to control our emotions. Someone cutting us off on the highway, or in a line with a clerk slow as a snail, or in a hurry and have a flat or caught in freeway tie-up. How about the cart at the mall bouncing off the side of your car, or watching the morning news and getting uptight at all the insanity going on in the world. You could fill a book with things that frustrate or make you angry. However, if you looked at each thing, “hindsight”, you will usually recognize that 98% of them were out of your control, and you just let them take over your emotions. The key phrase is “you let them”. You actually had a choice! If you know it is out of your control, why react emotionally ???? Once you accept you are wasting your happy cells on things out of your power, then change your reaction. Set a “Lesson in Futility” trigger. This is a sub-conscious reference, that at any time you encounter, what you know, is a futile situation, then you will have “foresight”, that it is out of your control. You will relax and accept it for what it is, stupidity on the driver’s part, incompetence on the stores part, a mindless accident of a wayward cart or ongoing madness that highlights your morning news. If the news bothers you, don’t turn it on. People say, “I want to know what is going on in the world”. OK, but why get emotionally bent out of shape, over the “news”. Anger cause people to say or do things, that in “hindsight” they would never repeat. Also, storing up accumulated stress from, out of control experiences, is often displaced on those nearest them, since they cannot attack the causing source. Make a habit of starting your day with pleasant music. Start with a smile, instead of a frown. When the guy cuts you off, back off and switch your thoughts to something pleasant. With very little practice, you will reduce your daily “lessons in Futility”, and minimize all those happy cells committing emotional suicide. I use a simple technique to redirect my thoughts. When in an uptight non-threatening situation, out of my control, and I feel tension building, it pushes a button and I switch to a fun project I am working on. Rather than let thoughts become frustrating, I use them in a positive productive way. This gives me a sense of personal control over my life. Also, in watching today’s news, with all the diversity over immigration, political election cartoons, Paris, the Mideast insanity, gun control, global warming and on and on, what can one do???? Rather simple. Unless you are going to be personally involved in any of these situations, accept a sad fact, they are out of your control. They are a reality of life, and getting uptight, angry and involved with how ludicrous they are, is just pouring your emotions down the toilet. This is where empathy and sympathy come into play. You can listen to the news, as news. It is intellectual, not emotional. You make it emotional. Once it becomes emotional, you give up control. I can feel empathetic for all the problems of the world, but I will not be sympathetic. Why, because I know I cannot or will not do anything about it. It is out of my control. If I feel I want to do something about it, then I will join a group relative to my concern and help anyway I can. The key thought is, am I going to do something or not. If not, then I will not waste one emotional cell, letting my emotion’s add to “lessons in futility”. I have spoken to many people, my age, who in “hindsight” wasted a lot of their life, being stressed about other people’s problems. Too much of their thoughts and emotions were spent on how life should have been, rather than how to make their life better, with “hindsight” from other peoples problems.

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