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Don’t Look Back & Other Useless Tips

As we start the new year, there are plenty of tips floating around again about how to lose weight, eat healthier, practice self-care, get organized, better utilize your time, become a better person or whatever. Some of them might be helpful. Many of them, not so much.

For some reason, one piece of advice that’s always annoyed me no matter what time of year I see or hear it is this one:  don’t look back; you’re not going that way.

How many times have you heard or read that one?

Quite a few, right? And let’s see, there are other similar gems like:  You can’t start a new chapter unless you close the old one. If you look back, you’ll miss what’s ahead of you. You can’t move on until you put it behind you. Blah, blah, blah.

The heck with all that. I will look any darn way I please, thank you very much.

What about you?

When someone tells you what to do or what not to do, it’s human nature to resist or push back, I suppose. Any parent of a toddler (or a teenager) will likely tell you they experience this resistance first hand on a daily basis. But it’s not just toddlers and teens. They just happen to often be more bold about resisting directions. But when you think about it, most of us don’t appreciate being told what to do or what not to do.

So why is there so much advice handed out about everything, especially at the start of a new year?

And why is it so often suggested that we not look back?

Yeah, I know it’s all about fresh starts and clean slates, but still…

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When I took driver’s ed back in junior high, we all got to sit in a driver simulation seat setup of some sort. That was pretty thrilling. I remember my instructor telling us we should be checking our rear view mirrors often. Super often. Like every ten seconds or something like that. We were supposed to look back and OFTEN!

That advice stuck. I mean, here I am I’m telling you about it decades later!

Of course, I probably don’t check my rear view mirror that often when I’m out driving around, but I do check it frequently because that’s what you do when you try to drive defensively.

I mean, what driver hasn’t experienced spotting that annoying driver in the rear view mirror who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and is suddenly right on your ass?

I sure have.

So yeah, you gotta check what’s coming up from behind. And you have to do it often.

Keeping with the driving theme, how can you possibly get to your destination without knowing where you’re coming from? You can’t get from point A to point B any other way.

So, what does any of this have to do with starting a new year, or cancer, or grief or anything, for that matter?

Actually, quite a lot.

Look back. Look ahead. Do both. I plan to.

How could we not?

This year, like every year, I move forward, yes. Move on…that’s another highway story.

Regardless, if I wanna look back, I’ll look back. (Why wouldn’t I? People I love are there.) When I wanna look forward, I’ll do that. If I wanna close my eyes and look nowhere at all, I’ll do that. Of course, not when I’m driving. I promise.

You are allowed to do the same.

After all, it’s your road. It’s your rear view mirror. It’s your life. It’s your new year to navigate any way you choose.

You are in the driver’s seat, metaphorically speaking and depending on your driving status, literally too.

Buckle up! Here we come, 2019!

May it be a smooth, gentle ride for us all. 

How do you feel about the advice, don’t look back; you’re not going that way?

What’s some advice you’ve read or been given that you’ve ignored? Or taken?

What will be one of your biggest challenges in 2019?

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Don't Look Back & Other Useless Tips #newyear #resolutions #2019 #advice #breastcancer #cancer #grief

Linda C Boberg

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

Well, I try not to look back (no one had to advise me). After all, I can't change anything. But I do relive parts of my life that were pleasant - is that looking back? Do what makes you happy.


Friday 14th of January 2022

Linda, Exactly. Do whatever makes you happy. Thank you for commenting.

Secret Agent Woman

Sunday 13th of January 2019

I imagine the saying is about not staying mired in the past BUT what's the point of good experiences if you can't relive them in your mind? Half the fun of travel, for instance, is remembering the experience later. And as for the bad memories - those have value, too. The difficult times shape us as surely, or possibly more surely, than the good. I don't want to be exhorted to forget them.


Monday 14th of January 2019

Secret Agent Woman, I agree completely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Laura T.

Thursday 10th of January 2019

I had panic attacks for years, read on the net that a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist could be of help. I went for five visits, the last one being seven months ago, yeah me, I have not had a panic attack since then. We covered many things in those visits, one being finding the answer to my question “why do I try to control everything even when I know deep down that I can’t.” The answer came clear by looking back, this has made a great deal of difference in my life, now I control what I can and don’t attempt to control the rest. The last thing the therapist said to me was “visit the past once in a while.”


Thursday 10th of January 2019

Laura, I'm glad your therapists was helpful and that you haven't had any recent panic attacks. Interesting that that was the last thing your therapist said to you. Sometimes looking back is exactly what we need to do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

Carol A Miele

Thursday 10th of January 2019

Love that your bring up this topic! I've had some fingers wagged in my face by well-meaning friends and relatives who want me to 'be positive' or 'look ahead, not back'. These are cringe-worthy moments that cancer patients should not have to deal with....don't we have enough on our plate without the added guilt trips and empty advice? Yet there it predictable! I firmly believe we learn from our past experiences and are the collective sum of all of those experiences. For most of us, it prepares us for difficult times, gives us strength or compassion, maybe empathy. Why would we want to totally abandon them now? It seems to me its the inner fears of the of the people who peddle this advice that surfaces when they are confronted with someone who has a cancer diagnosis. Then they project these thoughts onto us. Some things are better left unsaid.


Thursday 10th of January 2019

Carol, Your insights are spot on. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. And you're right, some things are better left unsaid.

Jan Podolak

Wednesday 9th of January 2019

At my recent six month appointment after my mastectomy, my breast cancer surgeon became angry with me. I had had the audacity to bring in an article from John Hopkins about an autologous reconstruction technique that also cured mild lymphedema. When I brought the conversation back to my desire to have a diep flap instead of implant reconstruction, citing defects with implants that occur about ten years out, she flicked a finger toward me saying “that won’t matter to you !” What?? When the comment sunk in I said “Oh, you don’t think I’ll last more than ten years!” No she said “I meant you’ re no young woman! She got up, stood over me as I teared up and pointed to my compression sleeve saying “why are you still using that?!” She walked out saying “stay in the gown. I’m sending someone in. A nurse came in and whispered to me “ I know you had cancer but you have to pull yourself together and move on!”

Wow! I can’t forget being treated with such a lack of understanding and compassion! And I was there to begin the process of reconstruction! Evidently, that wasn’t moving forward enough from someone who will have the threat of recurrence hanging over them for the rest of their life.


Thursday 10th of January 2019

Jan, I am sorry you were treated so horribly. That was really unacceptable. I would say, switch doctors if possible or let them know their behavior is/was hurtful. I know it isn't easy to do either one of those things. I appreciate you sharing your painful experience. Be sure to make the reconstruction decisions that feel right. My best to you.


Thursday 10th of January 2019

Yes lots of stupid comments. I asked my gp if she thought I was healthy sheCVsaid no cause you are having mental health problems. I them asked if she would pit that aside and she said no cause I have not seen your scans. I was pretty upset, why couldnt she sat yes you are healthy and yes you will do well ? So I said I guess I agree with you, "do you know you could die tonight" that was mean of me but she could of been kinder, I was just looking for reasurrance. Then she retired and we happened to be a a dinner. Our table was empty and she was thinking of sitting with us. I said all these seats are taken.

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