What would you say to your younger self? Most of us could probably think of a long list of things that we would say. That list would be based on the belief that "if you knew then what you know now, you would make some different decisions in life.
While a complete "do-over" would be an ideal way to change a particular experience that we regret having to go through in our past lives, one is not likely to happen. Fortunately for us, our mistakes and poor decisions do not leave us void of opportunity. We don't get to actually erase a previous experience and start over, but if we've gotten what it was that we were supposed to get from that experience, then second chances do come.
Much of what we have gone through has made us stronger in ways, wiser in ways, more self-confident in ways, more loving in ways, more diligent in ways, and more appreciative in ways. You can fill in the blank for yourself and when you do, you will think of the second chances that have come your way for you to demonstrate your growth in that area.
The thing that we find out in thinking about what we would say to our younger self is that it is quite possible that we would not be the women or men that we are today had we not made certain mistakes and had certain experiences then.
Growth. That is the good coming from a bad decision. It happens in any number of ways and to various degrees depending on the situation.
So often, we dwell on our pasts and beat ourselves up over mistakes and bad decisions, but how often do show gratitude for the growth? The songwriter, Warren Sapp would probably ask, "Are you not stronger? Are you not wiser? Did you not make it in spite of it all?
When we learn to appreciate the growth, how we got there doesn't seem so bad. It does not minimize your experience or your difficulty, but it magnifies your ability to continue to overcome your own mistakes. This is important because we will hold ourselves as prisoners in our own minds.
Excessive regret does not allow us to embrace our growth and who have become. I think that it is a good idea to use our past as a reminder and even as bit of guide to avoid some of the same pitfalls or stumbling blocks that we've encountered before. However, we should reflect and then move on. It is not healthy for us to linger and to allow regret to set us back.
Think about the regrets you have and then see if you can identify one thing that you learned from the situation or circumstance that brought on that feeling of regret. It probably wasn't hard for you to do. This is because those experiences were not in vain. They were not meant to hold you captive for the rest of your life. We mess up so that we can get to our stronger, wiser, and better self.
I believe that our younger selves were pathways to our present selves and so if I had to answer the question, "What would I say to my younger self?" I guess I would say, "Thank you for not giving up on me."
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.