I was interviewed recently about my chapter in Women Living Consciously and was asked to give advice to families, couples, individuals and friends of those facing a life-threatening illness. I caught myself saying, “If I only knew then what I know now…” and it got me thinking. We do a lot of thinking, talking and writing about what we could have done or what we should have done. I actually have 2 books about this very topic on my bookshelf right now. One is, What I Know Now – Letters to My Younger Self, another is, Me: Five Years From Now.
I bought these books not long after my husband died, and I believe it was in an effort to connect with other men and women who had regrets or felt guilty about how things went down in the past. Tonight, as I pulled those books off my bookshelf, I noticed that the dust has found better use for them than I have and I’m actually happy about that. Why is it that we need to tell our “younger selves” what we should have done? Are we that filled with “what if’s” and “regrets” that we need to write letters to our former selves? Does that really make us feel better or does it keep us focused on things we cannot change?
Don’t get me wrong, I will never be regret or guilt-free and I don’t think any of us ever will be. There will always be those moments when I’m transported back in time to a moment and I think, “Wow, I shouldn’t have said that, or done that. I could have handled that much better than I did”. There will always be times when I think of things I could have done, should have done, could have said, should have said…but didn’t. I believe that everyone has these moments – the difference is that, for us, we have no opportunity to change it. What’s done is done. And now I’m faced with it more and more as I continue to write and as I continue to help others who are faced with crisis in their lives.
“I don’t have regrets, there are only lessons. You learn from them, and you become a better person.”
– Nicole Polizzi (This is Not the Life I Ordered)
Accepting the regrets and turning them into lessons for your future I believe is the key to living a fuller, more meaningful life. Re-living the moments you can’t get back will not change what happened, but they CAN help you to create a better future. And even though I knew my husband was going to die and I had time to prepare and “make it right”, I still was filled with regrets. So many times I got frustrated, focused on the little things, got angry that he was dealt this card….The bottom line though is that no one does this perfectly. The key is to accept the could have’s, should have’s and what if’s as moments you cannot change and to move forward in this life making a conscious effort to do things differently. I say “I love you” more, I don’t like leaving a disagreement unsettled, I focus on the people in my life more and the “little things” less.
Not long after my husband died, I met a man who swept me off my feet. I wasn’t looking for a relationship. In fact, that was the last thing on my mind. I was totally content living on my own with my 2 kids. We had been through so much pain and sadness after a very long battle with cancer that I was looking forward to being with my kids and helping them through on my own. But there was something I knew was special about this guy and my gut told me to go with it.
I have since married the man who appeared out of nowhere and live a very fulfilling life with him and my children and I take the lessons learned from my past to try to make my present relationship the best it can be. I do, or I should say I try really hard to do, the things I could have done, should have done, could have said and should have said now. I don’t do them to make up for past regrets. I do them because I have grown as a woman and appreciate the gifts this life has to give. I live consciously, knowing that at any moment, this life as we know it can change in an instant. I am taking my “regrets” and my “what if’s” and turning them into positive, life-changing, risk-taking lessons that can only make me better!
I would love to hear your input and your stories about how you live your life more consciously now. What do you do differently now? Helping each other though this life is what this blog is all about. Please comment below or send me a private message. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Wishing you much health and happiness!