Do you live with regret? Do you beat yourself up over the past? Do you feel stuck, hopeless, or helpless? Do you want to live a life free from the pain of poor decisions?
Of course, the tricky thing about making a given decision is that oftentimes, even if a decision can be “undone”, it’s not without lasting effects. It’s a sometimes-very-sad-and-troubling truth that there are natural consequences for our choices. Not punishments, but, rather, simply logical, to-be-expected impacts of having the freedom and the power to hurt ourselves.
I have definitely made decisions that ended up hurting me.
I have definitely made decisions that have had (or continue to have) negative natural consequences in my life. Guess I’m human after all. While we can’t (darn it!) snap our fingers and wipe away the natural consequences of our past choices, we do have the power to decide to learn and grow from the experience.
We can process the pain of the past, and find healing for our present and future. We can change our perspective, our feelings, our underlying belief systems. If we have been habitually hurting ourselves, we can break out of that cycle.
The way that I look at my own life so far is that, yes, there are definitely choices that the Me of Today wouldn’t make again. But, when I put myself in the shoes of the Me Who Was, I understand the reasons behind the decisions she made at the time.
We make the best decisions possible with the information and wisdom we have at the time.
The way is long and curvy. The question is: am I still moving onward and upward?
It’s necessary to grieve the pain that some of our past choices have caused ‘later versions’ of ourselves –we need to be real about that; but after we acknowledge & accept what we feel, we can coach ourselves not only with truths about who we really are (i.e. a person who wouldn’t make X decision now) but also extend empathy to Who We Were Then.
We make poor choices out of hurt, unhealed places.
That Hurt Me or Hurt You of Yesterday doesn’t need to be shamed/blamed for a bad decision, but loved despite it. We were never less worthy of love and of goodness –we just used to not know that. Now we do.
Now we own what proved to be poor choices (of course, they seemed good at the time, with the information and insight we had), heal those places that supported making those decisions, process the residual pain from them, let go, and continue loving our whole selves: past, present, and future.
Your painful past, the former versions of you, your poor decisions that were “good” at the time because of Where You Were At Then —that is all still a part of you. Part of beautiful you. Part of what makes you beautiful.
It takes all of you to be Who You Are Today.
Love all of you. Weep with the parts that hurt. Comfort the parts that feel tempted to regret.
In your mind, return to those memories. Tell the Past You “Hi, I’m Future You, and I’m here to tell you, you’re going to be all right.” Speak truth into her pain. Tell her that she heals. Tell her that she is happy. Tell her that the aching loneliness, hopeless, helplessness is gone. Tell her that life isn’t perfect, but she’s learned and grown. Tell her that she’s dearly loved.
And then rejoice. Celebrate your growth. Celebrate your healing. Be truly proud of yourself that you aren’t abandoning hurt parts of yourself, leaving them to suffer in darkness and solitude. That’s huge.
Be filled with gratitude that you continue to learn to embrace your full self, to love and gradually integrate all your Inner Parts. Be filled with joy, that the You of Today loves better, deeper, more than the You of Before.
Be filled with peace. The peace, the calm, the stillness that comes from holding pain closer, so you can then release it.
Be filled with contented confidence:
Today you are you-er than ever before. Today you can safely trust your own Self more. Today you are making wiser choices. Today you are loving yourself more and more as you deserve to be loved.
And great natural consequences come from that.
Those are some of my thoughts on regret and natural consequences. What is your perspective?