During the next few months, many of us will be busy preparing for the holidays, excited to be with family and friends, looking forward to the New Year. The New Year brings many things, starting with the New Year’s resolutions. While most of us look forward to a new beginning, hopeful that things will be better, many spend time pondering about the past and saying, “what if?” and “If only I had”.
Forty years in practice has taught me that ruminating on the past and the “What if” question and the “If only I had” reply, is detrimental to your health. After all, you cannot change the past. While you are busy regretting past errors, you may be missing future opportunity. Today, a friend told me that one of the most important moments in her life was when I helped her through a moment of self-doubt and self-recrimination. She had made a decision many years ago that had long term consequences for her child’s health. At the time she made that decision, it was the right decision. Many years later, it was still the right decision, but when viewed through the “retrospectascope” could be questioned.
All of us are called on to make decisions on a daily basis. As individuals and parents who do not have a crystal ball with which to look into the future, we make the best decision we can. All of us, when looking back in time through the “retrospectascope”, realize that some of those decisions turned out to be wrong, some foolish, and some absurd. What is critical is to remember they were right at the time we made them.
When you make a decision that affects you or a love one, take the time to gather as much knowledge as you can. Follow your heart and your mind! Give pause, then decide and carry out that decision with great care. Later, if the decision turns out to be the wrong choice, live with it. Learn from it. Do not do the “What ifs”. “What ifs” serve no purpose. They lead to self-doubt, anxiety and depression. They make you less capable and, therefore, more likely to err in the future. Residing too long in the past steals your future. Look forward to the future and all of its possibilities.