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