21 Sep Regret or Gratitude
Personally I have a lot of regrets. They range from bad hair cuts to getting kicked out of college my freshman year. I’ve said things to friends that I regret; hurt people and I have made bad fashion choices (child of the 80’s). Sometimes I ask “Why did I do that?” So dumb! So ignorant! I make mistakes, we all make mistakes…but we can also learn from them as well…maybe? Maybe not!
For example, I have literally hit my head on the same cabinet in my laundry room probably 10 times. It’s the dumbest thing…literally I mentally kick myself every time I do it, which seems redundant as well. It’s like stubbing your toe on the same door jam, banging your knee on the same corner…just plain stupid.
Hangovers, debt, tattoos, friend choices, dating, car accidents, arguments, investments…don’t we repeat the same crap over and over? Sometimes, I think we are given situations like the one in “Ground Hog Day”, they will repeat themselves over and over until we master how to deal with them or think of a new way?
Sometimes we linger in regret, “Should-of, Could-of, Would-of”. Where does that really get us though? It just burns us out. I love a beautiful quote from Lao Tzu, an ancient philosopher and founding father of Taoism, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Isn’t it awesome? Read it again, I’ll wait.
This quote refers to regret as it is the root of living in the past and honestly if you dwell there, you will be depressed, bitter and will make the same mistakes over and over.
Ground Hog Day?
Why do we repeat mistakes?
I have analyzed why I keep hitting my head on the same evil cabinet? The cabinet is over my washing machine. I open it, get laundry detergent, use the detergent, put it back in the cabinet and close it. Many times in the process, I stand up before I put the detergent back and hit my head on the cabinet. So how do I change this behavior? Stop being so dumb? Not going to happen. Try to remember to close the cabinet after I grab the detergent, tried that. Leave the detergent out, messy is not my style. So, I moved the detergent to a different cabinet over the dryer, and “Abracadabra” , no more evil cabinet to hit my head on. Maybe it’s the repeated concussions, but the solution came to me eventually.
Of course I realize this small example pales compared to big mistakes, but it’s the start of something brilliant.
How can we not live in regret?
I don’t have an answer to that, but I know how it starts:
Forgive ourselves and others is the beginning. I mean everyone and everything. Forgive them all. Every single one. Forgiveness does not mean you allow repeat of mistakes, it just means to reconcile and let the regret go…when you do that, you see things in a different way. I did a whole forgiveness thing a couple of years ago and I think it’s a constant thing we have to do…Like the song from Frozen…”let it go, let it go…”
Focus to today, on this moment, focus on gratitude. If we appreciate what we do right, the learning moments from our mistakes and all the good choices we make, we live in gratitude. Often times, mistakes lead to different paths. Had I not been kicked out of college (story for another time), I would not be a disciplined learner, have passion for a new path and certain life moments would have not happened; I would not have met my husband at another college, had my beautiful sons…etc. Sometimes we need to think of a new way to do something to change our behavior of mistakes and regret.
For good and bad, it’s up to us to live a life in regret and repeat the same mistakes. Many inspirational speakers and writers are people who have lived big life mistakes or been victims of the past…but instead of living in bitterness and regret, they find a new way to direct their lives and inspire us. They live in gratitude.
Keep banging your head repeatedly (on purpose or no) or find a new way to do something and live life in the moment, in gratitude.
PS. Yes I did graduate from college, a couple of times.:)