I’m usually a fairly happy passenger on my journey through life, but some days I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve thought “if only”.
If only I’d lost this weight earlier in life…
If only I had gone back to finish a degree…
If only I had saved more money…
I’m not sure exactly what it is I think comes after the dots, but it must be spectacular given the number of times I’ve let a wistful sentence trail off that way.
The thing is…I’m living a pretty blessed life, right here, right now. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been (“the sinus” not withstanding), and if I had lost weight earlier in life, I’d never have you people, would I? Lack of a degree isn’t a character flaw, nor is it fatal, and as far as money goes, I have enough. It’s a Very Good Life.
In her prologue to There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk, Portia Nelson wrote:
My life has been a series of wonderful experiences. It’s a pity I wasn’t there for most of them.
I want to be here for this Very Good Life, and in order to do that, I need to focus on staying in it as it’s unfolding. It’s fine to use past experiences as learning tools or as reminders of times when life was better or smoother or healthier. Trying to live in those times, or to re-live them, as if the outcomes could be changed or recreated just from remembering, isn’t productive.
Obviously, I don’t have the answers for overcoming regrets, but I found a very good article that will get me (and anyone who wants/needs to join me) in getting started: Letting Go of Regrets by Arlene Harder. It’s a quick read and has some positive action steps for those times when the “if only” thread thrums loudly.
I once heard Anne Lamott share some very good advice a friend gave her:
Just be where your butt is.
I’ve borrowed that phrase many times when I’ve been overwhelmed with too-much-to-do-itis or worry-mania, and I think it works well for dealing with regrets, too.
So for today, my butt is right HERE, wherever HERE happens to be at any given moment. I hope I’ll do the same tomorrow, but I won’t spend any time today considering that. Nor will I waste time regretting anything my butt might or might not have done yesterday.
Do regrets get in your way sometimes? Have any life-changing advice to share with us on how you keep the Regret Monster away?
Wishing you a regret-free week…wherever your butt is.