REFLECTION: Why Looking Back Helps Move Us Forward


Amber Kerstein



In today’s world, there are any number of self-help books, magazines, and websites ready to tell you not to look back, but keep moving forward, that this is the only way to true self-discovery and success. This mindset is not only narrow and incomplete, it also does us a disservice. Without true reflection, introspection, and understanding of self, we cannot move ourselves forward toward success.

Reflection is necessary in all aspects of our lives: work, family, relationships, interests, etc. No matter what experiences we have had in the past, without truly understanding what happened, why it happened, and how it affected us, we will be unable to fully move forward. If there were errors on our part, hopefully we won’t make the same mistakes twice.

About two years ago, I felt stuck in my current position at work. The duties were easy and did not offer a lot of challenges. I was bored…to tears! So, I reached out to management and asked if there were any open positions that matched with my skill set. About two months later I was promoted, given a great raise, and was definitely challenged every day.

Unfortunately, due to a lot of blunders on both my part and my superior’s, it didn’t last. There were a lot of factors, some of them my fault and some not my fault. In the end, it was an enlightening experience and one, that once I reflected and looked back and saw what I could have done differently, gave me the insight to know what I had to do the next time I was in that type of situation. As the old saying goes: “Hindsight is 20/20”. In the moment, it is difficult to see the situation from all sides, but after it was over, I had a clearer picture of what was actually happening, and why. That helped me reflect, gave me insight into what went wrong, what I gained from the experience, and what I could do better moving forward.

Reflection, though, should not be confused with regret, remorse, guilt, or the inability to move forward. At the end of any experience, positive or negative, we need to allow ourselves to reflect, and ask what was good about the experience, or what was bad about it. After a suitable amount of time, it is necessary to move forward, to create a healthy separation from that experience. It is only when we remain in that reflective place that it can become detrimental. If we keep reliving the good, the bad, and the in-between, that is no longer reflection, that is remaining stagnant and allowing that experience to continue to dictate our lives.

So, in conclusion, use that rear view mirror! But only briefly. When we squeeze every morsel out of every experience, it gives us larger, and sturdier building blocks to create the path to our best selves.

Amber Kerstein

Writing is my passion, as is sharing my life experiences with those around me. A self-proclaimed lifelong student, with a BA in Political Science and an MBA, I am a versatile writer who’s topics include anything from healthy living, to politics, to overcoming setbacks and obstacles. San Diego has been my home for the last two and a half years, and I have never felt more compelled and inspired to share my story.

Website: www.reluctantlysocial.com

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