Whilst our memory of the past may be a little distorted, it does have a sound foundation of reality – it is real. On the other-hand, the future is not real; it is a prediction, or a fantasy. You may dwell on the past in a favourable way, or with regret, sadness or anger.
For those people who look back at memories of success and achievement; perhaps you feel you have never replicated that success or achievement since and that you will never replicate it again? Maybe you won’t, but could you perhaps view those times as a collection of particular successes in the story of your life, but successes which were just different from the successes you have had thereafter? It is my guess that you have had many other successes since then – maybe you have been a successful parent? A successful grandparent? Succeeded in a hobby? Sometimes our view of success can be extremely narrow – leading a successful life must surely be far broader?
Past sadness, regret or anger
For those who recall the past with sadness or anger. Is it possible that you are using the past to justify the way you behave today? “I was treated badly as a child, that is why I lose my temper”. This may indicate a need for you to take responsibility for yourself and to stop using the past as the reason why you behave in an unacceptable way as an adult. After all, there are probably thousands of children who were treated in this way, but do they all behave as you have?
Does the past bring security?
Also, in an unexpected kind of way, whether the past was good or bad, looking back at it can bring us a sense of security, after all we survived. The past never changes, but the future does, and is therefore uncertain. Perhaps you seek to live in the past as a way of finding comfort with the uncertainty of the future?