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The Past-Future Trap

Ever wondered why people worry and stress over any end every thing? Or what the cause of all suffering is? Well I've been wondering too...

There are two ‘times’ that don’t exist.

First is the Past. If I said, “go show me something from your past,” you can’t. You might show me a photograph, a picture or a video; but that’s actually not in the past, it’s in the present. It’s an image of the past, in the present. So the past does not exist, it’s only a concept; a mental fiction that we use to hurt ourselves most of the time. No one has ever gotten one second back from the past.

This power was denied even unto God; the ability to change the past.

~Og Mendino

The second is the Future. Just like the past; we cannot palpate anything from the future, we can only imagine and fantasize about it and often we torture ourselves over this. Until technology graces us with the invention of a practical everyday use time machine, the future just like the past will remain nothing but a concept.

However, unlike the past, there is a tricky part to the future; and that is the fact that we can make choices and decisions in the now whether consciously or unconsciously that can affect the shape of the future when it comes, but that doesn’t make it exist. It’s still totally out of your control.

If you try to control everything, and then worry about the things you can’t control, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of frustration and misery.


The quote above suggests that we should focus only on the things within our control and let go of everything else. That’s Zen 101. Relating this to our context, we find that the only thing we can control here is our actions in the now and not the outcome. It is important to highlight that we may put in our very best into a desired goal and its futile, all still goes wrong. It does not mean we didn’t do enough, it went wrong simply because that’s ‘the nature of things’. Things go wrong sometimes nothing more. Let that sink in.

In conclusion, to reconcile these two concepts, we have to realise that the past only serve two purposes, one is to fill the history books and two is to provide us with insights to help us better handle the now. The NOW is all there is. Making the right decisions and taking the right actions in the now increases our chances at a better future not guarantee it.

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

~James Clear

Remember it’s only a vote and you’re not the only one voting so it could go any direction. That’s just the nature of things. That’s it why you shouldn’t get attached to an outcome, only in that which you can control – your actions. If you’re worried about having spent little time with family in the past; spend more time with them in the now. If you’re worried you’d be broke in the future, inculcate financial management in the now, if you lost a loved one, worrying won’t being them back instead pick yourself up and remember that this feeling too will pass, and so on.

Regret not the past, worry not about the future; live the now.

Peace Be Unto You.

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