In yesterday’s blog, The What If’s, we explored the experience of catabolic, or destructive, what if thinking. Today we’ll cover some tools to put the past in the past and be present to a future that inspires you.
Let’s revisit the first two of my personal notes about what if thinking to explore how to shift this into an anabolic, or creative experience:
1. What ifs are not okay. When you regret the doing/saying or not doing/not saying of something you can continue to revisit the past wishing somehow it was different or you can choose to resolve it. The first step is to ask yourself if it is a fact or fiction that what you would like to change about the past is a fact or a fiction. There are times when my survivor’s guilt flares up and I go in to wishful thinking that if only I had done something differently, my late husband might have survived his cancer. The fact is that he had a terminal illness I could not cure. I did everything I could to care for him. My what if thinking is fictional. Now the odd time that this comes up, I remind myself I did everything I could.
If you feel it is not fictional and there is something you need to take responsibility for then ask yourself what do you need to do to correct the situation. Is there something you need to say or an action you need to take to clean up a mess you made either with yourself or with someone else? If so, choose this action, set a deadline and get it done. The emotional energy it is eating up and the resources it is depleting could instead be invested in worthy actions that make a positive difference in your life or the lives of others. Enough is enough.
2. No regrets…live without them. Be bold, be curious. In my world, I believe each of us has a gift to give. If you’re spending your time focused on regrets you are not sharing your gift with the world. This is keeping you playing small and safe and nothing that was a contribution to the world came about through this kind of thinking. Do some work to get in touch with your greater mission in life instead and stop withholding your greatness by living in the past.
Check back in on Thanksgiving Day for the last piece on putting the past in the past as we touch on gratitude and its role in moving beyond what if thinking.