A reader wrote in and asked…“Your Moving Beyond 90293 blog this week really hit home for me…especially the part about would haves, should haves. I know when I think about what if I had done something differently, it drags me down. How can I do as you suggested and live more in the present without so many regrets?”
Regretful thinking seems to be somewhat of an automatic way of thinking for human beings. When things don’t go as we would like, there is a tendency to wish for a different outcome. The strange thing is that when things go well, we don’t often look back and wonder what if we had made a different choice and the situation hadn’t produced the results we wanted. We tend to accept and be grateful for the good things that come our way.
As I mentioned in my blog on June 7th, there is value in assessing and evaluating experiences and situations after the fact to learn from them. It helps us make better choices in the future. One approach you can use is to act like a scientist observing the results of an experiment.
Look at the choice you made, the outcome and how you feel about it. If you are happy with it and it energizes then you’ve made a choice that aligns with your core values (check in Monday for a blog on core values and the role they play in your life). You feel empowered and your energy level is high. These are all good markers of a successful experience in choosing right actions or thoughts.
If, however, you are not happy with the results of your choice of action or thought or the outcome has you experiencing low energy, then you have the opportunity to notice what you values you compromised in that situation. This will allow you to choose differently in the future. If you can take this observational viewpoint, you learn from the past without falling into a pool of regrets.
This takes a bit of practice, discipline and awareness. When you choose to examine a past event or situation consciously, you will have a different experience than if you are dragged there by your emotions. Being curious and observational is one of the keys to staying clear of the would haves, should haves.
Next week we’ll look at the anabolic and catabolic nature of emotions so be sure to check back in.
Meanwhile, consider what your life would look like if you saw regrets as simply an opportunity to act or think more in alignment with your values next time?