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Why do I keep focusing on the past instead of the future?

17 Answers
Last Updated: 10/27/2020 at 3:00pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Trishna Monplaisir, LMSW

Clinical Social Work/Therapist

We are here to advocate, empower and provide compassion to individuals who need help.

Top Rated Answers
September 8th, 2015 7:39am
People focus on the negative instead of the positive, and on the past instead of the future, because that is what used to save us from danger. When our DNA was being programmed with this propensity, there was the very real fear of being killed by forces of nature and wild animals if we didn't learn our lesson the first time. When your mind experiences emotional pain, it reacts the same way as if you experienced physical pain. In order to prevent you from entering into a similar threatening scenario in the future, your brain will remind you of your past. Basically, it is your subconscious looking out for you. If this becomes a problem, and holds you back, there are lots of ways to retrain your brain! Many of the tools used to help with PTSD can be used to help you to stop focusing on the past if you don't want to focus on it as much as you do.
September 15th, 2015 2:07am
The past can be a haunting thing, it's hard to get your mind off of, and distracts you from focusing on the future. The pasts makes you think about everything, especially if you've gone through a traumatic event.
February 7th, 2015 12:20am
As best you can, allow yourself to become aware of your surroundings. Stop beating yourself up. Smile. Congratulate yourself for becoming aware of what's going on in your life and having made the decision to change or eliminate it.
October 18th, 2016 12:28pm
Its all about attitude. It takes time to change your attitude. It takes lot of courage and commitment to free yourself from your past and live in your present so that you can prepare for your future. Remember, what is gone is gone.
September 20th, 2016 3:20am
Its so easy to slip into a negative cycle, especially if your brain is more inclined to do so, and if you've been used to a way of life like that for so long! When we find ourselves in this cycle of focusing on the past and having regrets, it can be so hard to push ourselves back up.
May 1st, 2018 9:47am
Because that’s how the human brain works. You know what happened in the pat but don’t know what will happen in the future.
March 13th, 2015 5:28am
I use to be like that. Till one day I decided to stop existing and start living. Healing from your past will be the most rewarding thing you will do for yourself.
April 3rd, 2015 12:26am
All we know is what we have experienced. Sure we learn new information everyday but conceptual knowledge is what makes sense of new knowledge. You have to focus on what you know, to comprehend what you don't know. The future is unknown. Conceptual knowledge makes us believe that we can predict the future.
December 7th, 2015 2:08am
The past seems full to us, and the future does not (not yet, anyhow). The past holds people and times that matter to us. The past makes up our stories. We can remember, though, that our past was once our future. We are always moving forward, and will fill our lives with new stories.
April 23rd, 2018 5:10pm
Because you feel emotionally stuck in the past, probably by a bad experience or memory. Break-ups tend to be like this as well as death.
May 8th, 2015 5:13pm
You're not proud of something that happened in the past. You need to learn that you no longer live there so stop thinking about those things.
June 23rd, 2015 12:04am
Because sometimes we get stuck on the "repeat" button. The past is our recycled story; it is what we have mostly identified with. We can get stuck in resentments, about the past; we can not feel healed by some parts of our past. That can lead to feeling haunted by the past, continually. It is scary to focus on the future; if you let go of your past, who you will you be now?
October 18th, 2016 1:49pm
The past can be a very difficult thing to stop focusing on. Not everyone has a good past, nor everyone a bad one. I don't believe that you can just move on and forget about it. See, it has happened, and, regretfully, we can't change that. I believe we must come to terms, accept that it's happened, and learn to live with it. But it's not as simple as deciding you're going to continue forward, even with what has happened. It could be that you're still caught up in the past. Maybe you've accepted what has happened, but you can't move forward just yet. I think you need to explore the past with a therapist. Understand what happened, what you can do to prevent it (if possible), and learn how you can prevent it from blocking your path. It's a very hard thing to do. But you can do it. It can take a while, but once you are able to live, knowing that what has happened can't stop you now, or how you can stop it from doing so, you will be able to move forward again.
February 7th, 2017 7:30am
"The past is the past, the future is the future, but the present is now." This saying can help you focus on what's happening now oppose to what happened in the past.
October 27th, 2020 3:00pm
Because I remember past hurts and can't let go of them. I keep remembering how the past shaped who I am now. More than often, I realize that I should accept myself because I only have one life to live. People inspire me by their strength. As I am a person and I am here to share my struggles and hear the struggles of another, because we all go through difficulties. We are not from the same countries or faith but we are all human, and that is what matters. I think everyone deserves a chance to open up and be heard no matter who they are and what they do.
April 5th, 2016 5:43pm
you need not focus on the past, nor on the future. if you must focus on something, you should focus on the present.
August 29th, 2016 6:28am
Because it is so easy to see what has already happened, it's easier to pick apart your past then worry about your future. The future is scary but your past is what haunts you.