Sometimes We Get Stuck in Regret

Sometimes We Get Stuck in Regret

I should have done things differently.

Now it’s too late.

I’ve missed my chance.

I screwed it up.

I should have known.

 I say: baloney.

You did the very best you could do under the circumstances and with the information you had at the time.

Honestly, I’m not sweet-talking you with some feel-good mumbo jumbo here — I’m serious.

As I’ve said, in my experience everyone is always doing the best they can do — and if they could do better, they would.

So we need to bless the past. We need to settle in to the reality that the past cannot be any different from what it is.

We need to look back and realize that we have, indeed, always done the best we knew how to do — even when our best wasn’t very good. And that if the universe is friendly, we can assume it’s all been, somehow, correct.

We can wish things were different, but we might as well wish the mountains would walk down to the sea, because in this very moment, they can’t be any different.

Sometimes something happens that hurts us so deeply we think it can’t be right — it must be bad. We do something awful to someone we love. We ignore our intuition and we stay in some bad job, relationship, or situation longer than we should.

We are caught in some life circumstance that feels just horrible. I’m not saying we should paint those situations pink and call them cheerful. That would be diminishing, disrespectful, and cold.

You are allowed to feel as hurt as you are, as angry as you are, as sad as you are, as disappointed as you are.

Do whatever you need to do to express those feelings in a safe way:

bash the mattress with a whiffle bat, pray, cry, run, write, sing, apologize…

If you need help to move through those feelings, for heaven’s sake, set aside your pride/skepticism/reluctance and get some. And once we’ve worked through all our emotions, we are still left with the truth: the past is what it is, and it cannot be different.

Often, having discharged our pent-up emotion about the past, we can even see how it really was for the best — how whatever happened was a valuable (if painful) lesson for us, and we can genuinely feel grateful for the experience.

Even in the case of loved ones dying, well, we have to know that as much as it saddens us to lose time with our beloveds, we all have to die. Even with everything we know about medicine and prevention and safety, illness, death, and accidents still happen — in just the same way that unlikely healings and miracles and near misses still happen.

So we are humbled by our lack of control, and we bow our heads and still our hearts and say, “It is what it is.” And it cannot be any different, no matter how hard we wish it were so.

We can cling to the fantasy that it’s possible to change the past, or we can declare the past the past, deal with our current feelings (whatever they may be), and move on. The past is what it is, and we can move on from here.

Repeat after me: I can move on from here.

Photo credit: Khánh Hmoong via photopin cc

What If You Don’t Have Faith In Yourself?

What If You Don’t Have Faith In Yourself?

It’s a cold, empty feeling, that not-having-faith-in-yourself feeling.

Especially in this bright-eyed American culture of mandatory optimism.

tumblr_nvoumiATey1slhhf0o1_1280But some days, it’s just not there. You don’t feel worthy, you don’t feel special, you don’t feel like your projects are even worth your while, much less anyone else’s while.

And you think, “I’ve got to generate more faith in myself. I must believe in myself more. I must increase my confidence!” And like a child making a wish, you squish your eyes closed and clench your fists and search in vain for even the slightest spark of faith, feeling ever more desolate.

Now anyone can tell you that eyes-closed-and-fists-clenched is no way to engage with the world.

And nothing destroys faith more quickly than a voice saying, “You’ve got to have faith in yourself!” Ugh.

(Much like the directive, “Be creative,” a phrase that has the amazing power to instantly annihilate the creativity of every single person in earshot.)

Here’s the good news: you don’t need to generate faith.

You just need to accept it.

Faith is not something that you have find within, it is a gift that is given to you from without.

Faith has already been extended to you:
I have faith in you.
God (however you want to understand that word) has faith in you.
Your friends have faith in you.
Your customers, clients and students have faith in you.
Your favorite teachers have faith in you.
The flowers in the garden have faith in you.
Every newborn has faith in you.

All you need to do is open yourself up to OUR faith – humbly accept our belief that you can do the work and do it well – and begin.

You don’t need to fake confidence yourself; you need to borrow confidence from us.

After all, we’re pretty smart, and we know you pretty well, and truly, we have complete faith in you.

So open your eyes, open your hands and open your heart and allow yourself to feel the years and years of faith, confidence and praise that has been heaped upon you, and then, honey — get to work.

The world needs your good work.


Accepting Applause

Applause isn’t about you.

Applause is something the audience needs to express to in order complete their experience.

Applause is created by them (notice that you can’t really make them do it) and it is created for them.  They may think they are applauding you, but really they are applauding to punctuate their own experience – which is great!

Sort of like when you take a bite of a cookie and say, “Yum.”

The “yum” is not for the cookie. The cookie doesn’t care.

The cookie has already done its job of being a fabulous cookie.

The “yum” is for you. The “yum” sets apart this bite from all other bites. It underlines your experience and helps you to understand this particular moment of your life.

So don’t feel shy about graciously accepting praise or applause – you’re doing your audience a favor by welcoming their engagement.

(And the really important part for you is not whether or not people liked or didn’t like what you did, it’s what they liked or didn’t like about it that is significant. The approval means very little. The specific feedback means everything.)

So go ahead and take your bow, because like I said…it’s not really about you.