How regret and remorse prevent us from seeing that our seemingly ‘wrong’ decisions may have been ‘right’ after all
Every ‘wrong’ decision I’ve made has opened the door and led me to the ‘right’ one. (Well, eventually).
It’s true. Think about it a moment. The problem is that we get stuck there — judging. We park ourselves, lose perspective and forget that we can put our keys in the ignition and drive away at any time — off into the horizon of a new choice, a new opportunity. Instead, we beat ourselves up and carry our ‘stuff’ with us the rest of the way, condemning ourselves to some fate of perception that just isn’t so.
And of course, this is easier seen with others than within our own stories (so what else is new, right?). While recently sitting with a decades-old friend we started down that path and began lamenting a few of our regrets. “God, I wish you still had your apartment in the city,” I said as visions of hanging out on her balcony overlooking Central Park danced in my memory. “Oh, please don’t go there — selling that is one of my biggest regrets, one of my worst decisions,” she responded.
But I wasn’t letting her go down that path because one: none of us have a crystal ball to guide us through life’s decisions and two: her seemingly ‘wrong’ decision led her to a beautiful ‘right’ one — the life she has created.
The regret story was like playing a broken record — nothing more than a bad habit, not steeped in reality.
But we are tricky that way and we can find infinite ways to be unkind to ourselves.
But you know what? Two city girl transplants sitting here on my back porch on a gorgeous summer night, drinking a glass of wine, listening to the birds, basking in golden evening sunlight and friendship…had done something very ‘right’ — and life was good.
In fact, for different reasons, we had each carved out new and unexpectedly peaceful and beautiful lives nestled in these mountains that surround us. The truth is that neither of us wants to move back to the city, but it’s all too easy to dance in regret. It’s just a pattern. As soon as I outlined all of her ‘right’ things, all the reasons she had actually made a beautiful decision for herself…we both exhaled and settled into the knowingness of that truth.
Could I extend the same courtesy to myself the next time I decided to park in that parking lot?
Refraining from hopping on the remorse train is a radical act of self-love and self-care.
Sure you can take the ride, but it never leads us anywhere worthy of our time — unless we are there to pick up the pieces of old stories and old wounds so that we can thread them back together and tell a new story.
Life leads us in unexpected ways all the time — some are most unwelcome at the time. Just the other day I was talking to my 19-year-old son about this very subject. Hiking up a mountain reflecting on life, I told him that the biggest regret I had was in not trusting myself, not listening to my inner gut, not settling into what was unfolding around me. He listened quietly, probably half-understanding what I was saying and half rolling his eyes, but I continued and he feigned interest (wink wink). My biggest regret wasn’t the litany of wrong turns. It had nothing to do with the details of my choices with my career, my money, my marriages…no, it was all about my lack of trust and all the energy I expended trying to avoid that truth.
When we lose that connection to our inner compass, our connection to God and our divine plan in the world — we spin our wheels, waste our energy and run in emotional circles. Everything becomes a big deal. We get lost in the minutia and miss the messages — the true guidance and plan, the new opportunity and open door.
Yes, I’ve spent way too much of my life responding to circumstances and far too little of it believing that even in disappointment, pain and sorrow…there is purpose…another door.
I’m not going down the ‘everything happens for a reason’ path, but it does. A closed door is a chance to turn in a new direction. A heartbreak that you think you simply cannot recover from, is guiding you to true love. The path may not be outlined before you and that’s OK, but trust it. Trust in you. Trust in the goodness of life. Trust in this very moment and don’t waste it worrying about something you can’t change.
You can’t receive if you remain constricted in defensive posturing. It’s normal to protect ourselves, but it’s also normal to breathe and allow yourself to exhale.
Ask what any situation is trying to offer you — and then ask yourself what role you played in arriving here. And then just as if you were sitting with a dear friend on your back porch, not allowing her to hop on the runaway train of regret — could you do the same for yourself? Could you love yourself enough to forgive yourself…and could you lay those burdens and old stories down once and for all?
Find your way back to who you truly are at heart — a joyous soul who desires to be freed from the shackles of the past.
- Where are you beating yourself up?
- Where are you holding onto resentment and anger?
- Where are you digging your heels in because you need to be ‘right’ only to prove another ‘wrong’?
- Where are YOU in all of this?
Are you ready to see that your ‘wrong’ turns, just may have been ‘right’ after all? Remember, It’s OK to be happy…and regret free.
Are you ready to out yourself? Have you been hopping on that ‘ol regret train? Share with us where this shows up for you (and what you do with it) in the comments below.