“Shoulding” on ourselves and living with regrets.

I wonder how many of us live our lives going over our regrets on a daily basis. I know I used to spend a great deal of energy ruminating over what I “should” have done. It included ; could I have been a better parent, why did I get divorced, might I have been a more devoted daughter, and what if I had been less invested in my career, would that have made everyone around me happier? I have also self flagellated over gaining weight, not flossing every night, having hair that’s too curly and ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  Regrets have a place in our lives, if they wake us up to attempting not to repeat the past or if they give us new insights and possibilities. But the majority of us seem to savor our regrets in some dark and mysterious way as if feeling the guilt over and over will somehow free us from them or the pain they inflict upon us. There is research that says “swimming to the island of regrets” can help instill a healthy conscience but make sure you can swim back. After all never feeling any regret for untowardly behavior is the basis for being a sociopath or psychopath. One of the biggest problems individuals have that continually fret and share their regrets is that there are always individuals who have memories like elephants who simply won’t let you forget even if you want to. My mother loved to reiterate over and over her mantra “Didn’t I tell you”! She had the rhetoric down pat and could have given it as a graduation speech at Harvard. There are others with a similar mindset that I have shared the errors of my ways, who are masters at reminding me of them over and over.  In fact if you allow them to hold you hostage, you’ll be their prisoner for life. They like my mother have taught me to practice discernment as to what I say and to whom about my regrets. I have also learned to forgive myself for being human . Scott Peck, the author of “The Road Less Traveled” made himself famous with the first line in his book, “Life is difficult”. Yes it is and often we set out to do all the right things for ourselves and those we love, but “stuff happens” and we make decisions based on immaturity, and unfulfilled needs. One thing is for sure, our time on this planet is very short, and so we must try to focus on moving forward in the best possible way by learning from our pasts so that our days are filled with the joy of what we did right rather than what we didn’t do.

 

 

Thoughts are the foundation that help create our lives.

Much of our stress and emotional suffering comes from the way we think. Thoughts are the foundation that helps to create our lives. When there are a myriad of distorted, negative and unrealistic ones, the foundation cracks and we end up feeling crazed and humorless. Much of the way we think  is akin to a plane on autopilot. We forget that we can take the controls and navigate ourselves, but it is so much easier not to. Years of conditioning have created automatic responses. Think of some of the situations you’ve encountered. You’re in the parking lot looking for a space. You can’t seem to find one so you begin to assume that “something is going on”. You don’t know what it is, but why else would you be having so much trouble finding a spot. The more you ride around the more frustrated you get. Since you’ve convinced yourself you will probably not be able to find a space, you’re only focus is to continue to” not find one”. Even if there was one right in front of your eyes you wouldn’t see it. Let’s say you go to the movies and your intention is to make sure you find a seat with no one in front of you. Let’s face it, everyone is looking for the “right seat”.  A young couple with children sit in front of you and they all have big heads and lots of hair. You start thinking, ”Oh no!, not again!, This always happens to me. It never fails, I always get people in front of me with fat heads. You could move if there are other seats, but sometimes we become so trapped by our distortions that we can’t focus on looking for another seat. We would rather continue the drama by escalating the negativity. “Now my night is ruined”. “That’s it, I’m never going to the movies again”. We lose total perspective and make announcements that are geared to enhance our inability to make rational choices. The chances that you will never go to another movie until the day you die is ludicrous. I do less of the above, but every once in awhile I get into my “stinking thinking”, especially when I can’t find something. The other day I found one of the pair of shoes I wanted to wear. I was convinced someone took the other one, but who could that be? I don’t think my partner Kenny is interested in wearing one black high heel. But then who knows. I finally found it under the bed, but not until I drove myself nuts. Oh well, I’m not perfect!