There is always an active battle in our minds. Did I do the right , did I say the best comment possible, could I have handled that better, what could I have done instead? It is so easy for me to go down that road in my mind with tough situations but the way I look at it, we have two options: live a life with regrets or enjoy a life full of accomplishments.
The first option seems like a no brainer and yet so many of us have regrets. We have a variety of should haves, could haves and would haves. Growing up I had a few that would keep me up all night. One was so simple that it seems inadequate to use a an example, but it is the one instance in my life that I became tired of regrets and chances that I let pass me by. That was the catalyst for my change, the event in my life that I said enough is enough. Here goes:
I grew up with two older brothers and we were always highly active kids, playing sports, going to the lake with friends and just always up to something. One of our trips to the lake we took turns on a rope swing, everyone else had gone and it was my turn. First try I landed on my side with a loud smack, it hurt but I wanted to try again because I had landed so poorly. Second try I swung and off I went through the air, I let go of the rope and I hit the water with a massive belly flop. Knocked the air out of me and my ribs hurt for a few days after. A few weeks later we went back to the lake and on the rope swing again. I got up the hill grabbed ahold of the rope counted down from three numerous times but I just couldn’t get myself to jump. Embarrassed and full of regret I slid down the hill back into the water and didn’t face that fear again for the rest of the summer. That night when my head hit the pillow all that I could think of was how I didn’t jump. I must have pictured that scenario a hundred times. While my mind was filled with regret I started spiraling, thinking of all the things in my life that I had regrets about, it wasn’t a short list and it wasn’t pretty. That night I grew exhausted thinking of all the things that I didn’t do when I had the opportunity, I made a decision at that very moment that changed my life forever, I would no longer live a life that was run by regrets and fear.
Please understand that the latter option does not mean that everything goes perfect nor does it mean that we are impervious to mistakes. It simply means that you can overcome your mistakes or regrets, you can give yourself a break knowing you did the best in your situation with what you had at that exact time. The one rule I use with this option strictly is that I will not allow being kind to myself during a mistake or a shortcoming as a cop out. That will get anyone nowhere fast. When something comes up that scares me I decide to take it head on. If I have the time I even prepare myself for the day I have to do something that makes me nervous. For example if I know I am going to host a party, I like to get ideas online for meals and fun things to do, if I am going to do any public speaking I read a good book by Dale Carnegie and youtube a few great public speakers like Les Brown. I made a decision to change the way I was living but with that decision came a lot more prep time and sharpening my skills that way even in my weaknesses I was always doing better than 6 months before.
As I mentioned before not everything goes perfectly, but I do try to remember that with every difficult situation I did the best I possibly could at that exact time. I recently lost a dear person in my life to suicide. Law enforcement was involved and they had called me asking for a recording that they could give from me to that person in hopes that there would not be a death that night. I was in shock and had to do the recording twice. I had no idea what to say other than “I love you!” Law enforcement helped me to gather some thoughts and the second recording was much better and heart felt instead of panic stricken. Within a few hours I got a call that the incident was over and that person ended their life. After days of numbing pain I started thinking the worst possible thoughts known as “WHAT IF”. What if I had said something else? What if I had called them earlier that day? What if I had visited more? These kinds of questions will lead to a life of regrets. Not only will these questions damage your outlook on life, they will stunt any growth you are meant to have. Playing the what if game will continually keep you in the past reliving your nightmares. I want to propose that you change your way of thinking when it comes to situations that didn’t turn out the way you wanted. Instead of that what if question how about you look at what you did well. Before that person committed suicide they heard my voice and heart tell them that I love them dearly and that feels refreshingly fortunate even in the pain of that loss. I had never been apart of a suicide before but since that day I have done a fair bit of research on things to do when someone is suicidal, what things help and the things that are not good to say. Even when you feel that you have failed make sure you turn your weakness or regret into a strength. I pray that I am never apart of a suicide again but if that day ever comes I feel so much more prepared and useful than I did a year ago.
What is your fear or regret and what are you doing or going to do about it? Personally I am mortified when it comes to public speaking so in the last year I have read many books on speaking and watched hours of video about public and motivational speaking. Don’t get me wrong the thought of speaking to a crowd still makes me feel excessively queasy but I want to overcome that feeling one day. I feel that the things that scare us the most will give us the greatest breakthrough when we tackle them head on. Sharpen your skills and work diligently on your weaknesses because that will create a life of accomplishments and not one of regrets.