Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: Three Places You Don’t Need to Go

Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.      ~ Maya Angelou

So, you’re going along in your therapy process and many light bulbs start to go off. You now realize so much more about what’s been happening around you that you never realized before, how your own well-intentioned actions have worked against you, or how your or your family’s version of “normal” was anything but healthy. All well and good.

BUT, you now start to beat yourself up about this. “I coulda spent these last 25 years living such a different life. It woulda been so much better for me. I shoulda known what to do. Why did I DO that?” Another wave of depression sets in as you contemplate what coulda been if you only knew then what you know now. Well, I’m here to tell you: You don’t need to go there!Yes, of course, if you had known, life woulda been a lot better (maybe) and so on. But you didn’t know! If we put you in a time machine and send you back 25 years (or whatever) with no more knowledge than you had then, what would you have done differently? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!

You did the very best you could with the knowledge you had at that time. Once we’ve learned from our experience or gained some knowledge we didn’t have before, it’s very easy to second-guess ourselves. The better decision or choice or path or way of being presents itself so clearly now. What were you thinking! WHO CARES?

No use crying over spilt milk, as they say.

What’s gained by blasting ourselves for not knowing something before we knew it? We simply didn’t know it! That’s all you need to know or think about. Then, a nano-second later, you can begin a new life using your new-found knowledge and start feeling better about yourself and your life. Hindsight is 20/20, but only useful as a cautionary tale about the present and future, which is all you have now.

As you drive the car of your life, it is often useful to clean off your rearview mirror so you can see where you’ve been. That way, you can avoid past “mistakes,” do better, recognize your and others’ unhealthy behaviors as they recur in present times. Yet, you don’t want to drive your car using only your rearview mirror.

The lessons learned in clearing off the rearview mirror can help you maintain a clear windshield as you see and move into the future. So much more will be clear, will make sense, or at least feel familiar. You can drive your car/life more safely, in a better direction, and be more responsive to what’s up ahead.

So, focus on a clear future, not a hazy past. You’ll get where you want to go much more quickly and peacefully that way.

Bon voyage! Safe travels!

 

Copyright 2017 Daniel J. Metevier