In the end there is only love or regret.
I posted this on a Facebook post the other day.
It’s a concept that really is about prioritizing what’s important to you Identifying the things that matter and protecting them. And not things that matter in the short term. Things that matter in the long term. End of life, last breath, things that you will know have counted.
Sounds morbid. Sounds contrary to being in the moment, being present, mindfulness on the now right?
But there’s balance in that.
Regret is painful and lasting. It can be crippling.
It can transform us into victims and keep us from living the fullness of our lives. But it doesn’t have to. Often within our biggest mistakes, our biggest regrets, are powerful lessons and growth potential if we can challenge our mindset.
1. Be Present Minded and Accept Your Past as Unchangeable
Yes, be present. Don’t speculate. Fast forward thinking, game planning disasters, even positive projections into the future are fantasy. It’s good to do some of this for goal setting, for motivation, to keep your brain moving forward. But too much of it can cause anxiety, helplessness, or keep you from the focus on the moment.
Being present minded is important – it helps to contain whatever happened in the past and whatever is going to happen in the future.
Come to grips with an unchangeable past and a uncertain future.
You cannot change what has happened. Learn from it and leave it. Stop being crippled by it, stop blaming it. Reframe it into lessons. Do your personal work in this area to heal your past so you are not bound by it.
Some things might happened for a reason, some things happen at random — you cannot let that hold you forever.
I could live in the shame of making a terrible choice for a marriage partner given the catastrophic impact it had on my life and the decade of multi-layered recovery that it required to get my life back on track.
I could blame him for being an alcoholic, an absent father and an uncaring human. His actions hurt my children more than they hurt me and I could bear that grudge for a lifetime of toxic anger.
Then I could add blame to myself. For missing warning signs. For being gullible and naive. For making a poor choice for my own life and taking on another lifetime of guilt for making a poor choice that affected two innocent lives.
Or I can learn from it.
2. Extract Learning from Your Mistakes, Refuse Guilt
I did make a lousy choice. It did derail my life for almost a decade in multiple ways and changed my future – or at least the future I had hoped for. It has rippled down to affecting my children and their lives, of course.
The guilt of that could be paralyzing. It could make me wallow in being a victim of my own choices and someone else’s behaviour.
Or I can reframe.
I know that my kids are meant to be. They were meant to be born. They were meant to be raised by me. For whatever reasons and for whatever painful circumstance – I believe that they were purposed. And so they are here and I have raised them singlehandedly for their entire lives thus far. The consequences of my choices have meant a difficult road and a decade of being single.
This was not what I wanted for my life, but this is how it is. I can accept that and focus on what I have learned and developed through it.
My kids, because of our struggle and trauma, are resilient, attuned, and independent. They have learned to work through discomfort and adversity at young ages. They are strong. Stronger than many, stronger than they would have been. This will serve them in their lives in almost every difficulty they encounter.
I have advanced and excelled as a result of this also. I have evolved into a stronger, more grounded person. I have more compassion, more kindness, more empathy than I used to. It serves me well in this career, that I also wouldn’t have had without this experience.
We are better, actually, because of what we have been through. Because of my bad choices. Somehow. And for lots of reasons.
As a threesome, we are so connected. We support each other. We are tight. We are conquerors – individually and as a family. And the lessons and values we have learned and incorporated into our family dynamics are important and they are all good.
I wouldn’t want to repeat it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I often feel depleted from the history of it, the endurance that has been required, the pressure of being the only living parent and provider for my family. And yet – somehow in the reframe, it is all positive.
The memory of that person in my life, that marriage, almost doesn’t exist anymore because our lives, by my choice as the leader, have been progressive, evolving, and positive.
It’s been a lot of work. Consequences aren’t pleasant or easy. Mine were hefty. But I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for the woman I have become. For the mother I choose to be. For the kids that I have the honour of facilitating into lives of their own. I focus on these things.
3. Choose Your Mindset to Change Your Outcome
Out of disaster, by choice and mindset, people rise from the ashes. I know we did.
Not because we came into it remarkable or exceptional in any way, but because at every stage of this segment of time I made choices on how I wanted to get through it.
I used forward thinking to help move me forward and not get stuck. To help give me a sense of the future and character I wanted to grow into.
I didn’t allow defeatist worst case scenarios. I never imagined giving up on love or marriage, being single forever, being emotionally distraught or poor for my life or my kids not having opportunity. If those thoughts crept in I rejected them.
I chose the positive view of the future I wanted and that I deserve. Lots of it hasn’t happened yet, but that’s irrelevant. It’s not about what I can control in my future, it’s about what I can control within me in this moment.
Life is unpredictable.
You think you have a lifetime to love someone and then you lose them. You think you have time to do all the things you want to do and then suddenly you don’t.
The time is now. To choose your thoughts. To choose the outcome that you want. To start being embodied in your actions and emotions to move forward, every day, no matter what your past.
To refuse to be a victim or held hostage by the past. To refuse to be crippled by your bad choices. To refuse to be in bondage to guilt or shame because you made mistakes.
Just get better. Decide to live better, be better.
Get bold. Get fierce. Every day as if it’s your last.
When you make choices going forward – think about what you’ll remember on your last day. Because it is all about love or regret. What will you look back upon and love.
What will people speak of when they reflect on your legacy? It’s who you were, how you treated people, and your character that people remember. Not your business success, not your fortune, not how prestigious you were. It’s who you are, who you have chosen to be, particularly through adversity that makes you memorable.
Learn from regret – don’t live in it.
Move forward with intentional legacy decisions so that in the end, you have more love than regret.
Make choices as if your future is undetermined. You might not have the next 10 years, the next 20 to follow your life plan. Some things you need to do now.
In the end there is only love or regret.