If you have lived for a good number of years, you might have, at one time or another, thought, “if I knew then what I know now, I would not have taken some of the paths I did.” And, you would probably be right. Knowing better gives us an opportunity to do better, but if all of life’s paths were so plainly clear and straight, how would you know that you could find your way through?
Much of what you went through then has been central to the growth of the person you have become. Your resilience to start over when you had to, your courage to keep going even when you were afraid, and your character to give first and take last are all a part of who you are.
Oftentimes, we dwell on our pasts and beat ourselves up over mistakes and bad decisions. If you are a parent, or a grandparent, you have probably found yourself trying desperately to protect your children and grandchildren from mistakes and bad decisions. What a heavy load to carry. You can teach them certain things and share with them your experiences, but their life lessons are theirs to learn. Perhaps you can find peace in letting go and trusting the process.
Inevitably, our lived experiences shape our perspectives on how we see the world around us. Sometimes, we are better for having had them than if we had not. I think that the regret we harbor is sometimes connected to the setbacks and/or detours that we might have encountered as a result of a wrong decision or costly mistake.
I wonder how things might be different for you if you thought of the temporary setbacks or detours that you might have encountered as necessary parts of your journey. I wonder what would happen to regret if you saw your setbacks and detours as being a part of the process of teaching you patience and navigational skills to find a different path to what you want for yourself.
Sometimes regret is connected to situations and circumstances that have caused shame and hurt. This is one of the ways regret shackles you to your past. When you are able to take away from those experiences some lesson on life, or love to make better decisions and to become a better person, you free yourself from regret’s grip.
If you knew then, what you know now, you might’ve done some things differently, and it is possible that you might’ve done more or acquired more. It is also equally possible that you are a wiser, stronger, and better you just as you are, right where you are. But, if you are not happy about where you are, then what do you propose to do about it? Choose one thing that you wish you had done, that you can still do, and get on it.
Regret can only keep you shackled so long as you stand still and refuse to move forward.
Contact columnist LaTonya Dunn at firstname.lastname@example.org.