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'Reflecting' vs 'Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda'

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

Reflecting Our Past Can Be a Good Thing!

by Jean Aaron aka The Conscious creator

We are told to reflect on the past and not dwell on the past. We are also reminded that those who fail to remember their past is prone to repeat it! Repeating the past is not such a bad thing unless that past was horrendous and wasn’t something we’d like to see or do again! Reflecting on your past is a good and necessary thing! However, replaying the video of past transgressions that happened or that were committed in the past over and over in your head is a

waste of good time and energy! Wishing that you could do it over again andover-thinking how you should have or would have done it, only if… well, the sad truth is that you don’t have a time machine and no matter amount of time or wishes will bring back the past!

Although reflecting on your past can be a bad thing, when overthinking it with the

could haves, should haves, would haves and wishful over thinking, there are

also good things that can come as a result. First, let us get a clear understanding

of what reflection is and what reflection is not! When we reflect on our past

experiences, we are simply thoughtfully looking at the experience once again.

We recall the experience, reminiscing or indulging once again in the memory to

relive or revisit the joy of the memory or to gain understanding and clarity of the

lesson learned from the pain or sadness the memory caused. Be very careful,

for this can be very tricky. The word indulge carries both good vibes as well as

bad vibes. It is all in how or your motives for approaching this indulgence!

Reflecting means to think back to past experiences, think deeply about those

experiences which could result in a plethora of emotions—positive or negative.

But reflection is not just letting memories run through our minds. It is a careful

process of unpacking, learning the healing, of sifting through a time that has

passed while acknowledging lessons and feelings that once were to help move

us forward in the present moment. Reflection is a tool for learning and healing.

While on the other hand or side of the coin is reminiscing, which means indulging

in past memories that are deemed enjoyable. But, if we reminisce without

thought or care, we begin to see only part of a picture, the part that brought

pleasure, excitement, and fun. We also run the risk of distorting past memories to

make them more palatable which, in turn, does the opposite of healing. If we are

looking back to find the good, especially in some precarious situations, we run

the risk of romanticizing our past experiences, even the ones that put us in

rehab, the hospital, and worse. It also means we are not focused on finding joy in

the present moment which is a big red flag. Reminiscing can lead to a false

sense of understanding. 

When we think back to our past, we need to realize the power in that act. We

have the power learn and heal or the power to harm. It’s almost as if we are gods

harnessing the power of time in just one moment of life. But, if we use that power

to find happiness in another time, we are once again avoiding our feelings and


Here are a few steps to follow and keep in mind as you reflect vs reminiscing!

Be Present! Remind yourself over and over again - that was then and this is


Be Positive! We have a choice in how we reflect on our past – and we can

choose to be positive no matter how negative, painful, or sad the experience


Be Perceptive.

Be Purposeful. Know why you are reflecting and what you hope to gain from the reflections.

Be Perfected. Remain open and willing to see as deeply as necessary to gain

clarity and receive your healing.

Be Proactive. Take care of your emotional self as you reflect. Remind yourself

that you are gaining understanding of lessons learned from the experience so

that you can respond rather than react in similar and future experiences

Be Passionate. Be determined and committed to your clarity and healing.

Again, reflecting on your past is a good and necessary thing! The most useful

reflection is one that involves mindful consideration rather than replaying that

shoulda, coulda, woulda video over and over in your head. Reflection affords

you the opportunity to analyze your past thoughts and actions. Reflection gives

our brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, to really sort through and

think about our observations and experiences; and interpret our past to give new

meaning for the future.

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