Understanding Your Past Shapes Your Future

A recent podcast on one of my favorite websites, the Art of Manliness, reminded me of an exercise every guy should do at some point in his life. In fact, you should do it sooner rather than later. The exercise is called a life review, which will help you reflect on your past to understand who you have become and who you want to be in the future. This reflective exercise will help you become the best version of a mature adult man.  

The AoM podcast, How Doing a Life Review Can Help You Understand Your Past, Present, and Future features William Damon, a Stanford psychologist who studies adult development and purpose. Damon is also the author of A Round of Golf With My Father: The New Psychology of Exploring Your Past to Make Peace With Your Present. He suggests doing this exercise at any age will help you gain greater clarity about who you are today.

Damon describes the steps of a life review and how it can help you understand why you make certain choices. A life review can help you recognize the areas for change. It can also identify the need to continue to grow, no matter your life stage.

Bill’s own story describes how a life review helped him get to know and forgive his father, who he thought was killed in World War II. Bill discovered his dad actually survived the war and led a more complex life than he could have imagined. This helped Bill think more positively and gratefully about his life story — even his regrets.

Doing a Life Review

As I previously wrote in Planning Your Manhood, I attended a men’s study that also included an exercise similar to a life review. Early in my adulthood, a friend asked me to join him at The Quest for Authentic Manhood, which required some deep reflection on our three stages of life:

  • A Look Back (into your past)
  • A Look at Now (your present self)
  • A Look Ahead (at who you want to be)

I found that reflection on my past very enlightening and freeing. I came to understand how my relationship with my parents shaped my life. It helped me settle some resentments and helped me deal with them positively. It left me more grateful for my life and my family.

Addressing The Wounds of Your Past

In that same study, Dr. Robert Lewis stated it is impossible to live fully into our God-given potential until we unpack the five significant “wounds” that every man will face. Lewis said that you may not have experienced all five, but everyone has at least one of these wounds you need to address.

  1. The “Absentee Father” Wound
  2. The “Overly-Bonded with Mother” Wound
  3. The “Lack of a Compelling Vision for Manhood” Wound
  4. The “All Alone” Wound
  5. The “Depravity” Wound

    This study and deep reflection also set the course for the next chapter of my life so I could become a better husband, father, friend, and godly man.

    So I challenge every man to reflect on his past to help them set the course for their future. Do the exercise with a good friend or one or more of your GodBoddies. I promise it will transform your path into adulthood and help you discover your real purpose as a man. 

    [Sources: Photo from Pngtree, AoM Podcast #727]

    Wisdom for Men is based on my opinions on topics that help men become better men. The sources used for these posts are not fact-checked but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. My GodBuddy theory is based on biblical principles but applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships among men will help solve the crisis of male friendships and many of today’s problems… because the world needs better men!


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