I think it’s fair to say that each of us has felt the deep pain and anguish of regret as we’ve pondered what I believe to be a very crippling question.
“What would my life be like if only (insert regret here) hadn’t happened?”
It seems we believe that the answer to this question is going to change things for us, that imagining what could have been or should have been different will somehow free us up to move forward wiser and smarter.
But has this way of thinking ever really done that for you?
Has the fantasy of what you wish you had done differently actually brought you more clarity and comfort in your life or has it simply inflicted more pain? Do you feel smarter as you picture each scenario or more stupid?
All the scenarios we can conjure up in our brains will not change the fact that what happened, happened.
Sure, we will have moments of wishing we knew better but how is it possible for you to be the person you want to be now as long as you keep on imagining how you should have been different then?
Marianne Williamson once said: “You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”
It’s our thoughts about our past that have to change, not the past itself.
We spend so much time picturing the different choices we could have made without entertaining that it’s not the choice itself that is keeping the regret there, it’s the picturing.
As long as we’re imagining a different scenario and wishing things had been different, that regret will stay firmly in place.
It’s only by accepting our choice that we can then begin to embrace what we can learn from it.
If you’re going to imagine anything, try instead to picture what your future would look like if you didn’t carry this feeling of regret in your life.
What would you think, say or do differently if you didn’t feel the shame of what you think should have been a different result from your past?
You know what you know now because of what happened, not despite it, and you still have time to be the person now that you think you should have been then by simply accepting it and applying what you’ve learned.
The mistakes of our past are just bruises, not tattoos.
So today, choose to look forward with a new appreciation for the wisdom your past provided and begin to create a new and grander version of you.
What are your thoughts? (comments below)