One of my friends lives in a state of constant regret. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
I can see how it happened: Traumatized at an early age by a dominant, unreasonable and abusive father, this sensitive soul built protective walls. The walls weren’t strong enough and didn’t keep them safe.
But what they DID do, was prevent them from being alive. From living a full life. From participating with their whole heart and soul. And from resilience. No resilience was built.
Consequently, their life became all about regret:
I should’ve left the situation.
I should have done something else.
I should have bought the house.
I never should’ve married them.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
My friend is still so busy regretting the past–and developing new regrets, yes, even today–that they’ve missed living.
It’s very hard for me to stand by silently. But, at this stage of my life I have learned that I simply can not fix people. They must not only want to fix themselves, but actually take action in that direction.
When I look at my friend, this is what occurs to me:
Our task here is to be alive NOW, to live with open hearts and to live our way through problems to the other side.
It is not to live in regret.
Sure, we’ll falter along the way, make bad decisions and good ones, too.
Our task here is to participate in life–all of it. The whole range. Not to hide deadened souls behind too-thin walls.
One of my friends will occasionally remind me to move on from an obsession: “MoveOn.com!” he will exhort.
Yes, for sure. Move on.