If I Had Known Then What I Know Now

I have a philosophy about the past: what’s done is done. Sounds pretty obvious doesn’t it? And yet you hear so many people rehash the past, blaming themselves and others for how situations did or didn’t work out. So what’s the point of all that ‘hashing?’ Can you change anything about the past? Well, maybe if you have access to a time machine you could. But would that even be a good thing to do? Never forget the space/time continuum and the inherent dangers in messing with the past!

Okay, so you’re not a Star Trek or Back To The Future fan. How about Somewhere In Time? No? Then back to the original question: what is the purpose of rehashing what’s done and gone? My answer is to use it as a learning experience. What other possible reason (other to punish yourself) would you have for replaying your mistakes in the theater of your mind’s eye? If you learned a lesson, if you know what NOT to do in a similar situation the next time it occurs (if ever) GREAT! Wonderful even! By all means tuck that knowledge away and bring it out when you have a chance to employ it in another time and place.

Let’s face it. That’s how human beings learn throughout life. The baby learns to walk and talk by doing it over and over until he figures it out. Once he has it firmly in his took kit, he doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. But the older we get, the things we must learn seem more complicated and our problem-solving skills may not be up to the challenge.

A very good woman once shared with me a wonderful piece of wisdom. I try to remember it whenever I’m tempted to beat myself up about what I consider to be a bad decision I’ve made or the way I’ve didn’t properly handle a problem. She said, “In most situations, people do the very best they can do at the time. Maybe an hour from now, they would make a different decision, or handle the problem in a different way. But at that moment, when they are required to act right then, with the knowledge and skills they have available in that instant, they do the best they can.”

So try to give yourself a break instead of wasting your energy berating yourself when you replay those scenes in your mind. Whatever you were lacking at the time, whether it was patience or knowledge or skill, now you at least know what needs to happen next time. If you’re faced with it again, you will be better equipped and maybe feel like giving yourself a pat on the back. Wouldn’t that be a relief?

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