“Absolutely everything that has happened to you in your life, has happened for a reason…and everything is a lesson and it’s part of your story. You can see that everything is a dot on the roadmap that has led you to this exact moment. Standing here in this moment, you are standing on another dot and this is part of the map leading you where you are meant to go,” Mel Robbins. What a perfect follow up to our discussion on change. This deals a bit more with regret and the inability to change what has happened. I’ve paralyzed myself with regret before. A meeting didn’t go as planned, I flubbed a decision, or I snapped at my kid would put me in a state of self-loathing. Clearly I was incompetent if I couldn’t manage to handle these simple things, right? Wrong.
This behavior was pervasive for me. I could detail EVERY embarrassing moment of my life all the way through to….well, today. I know we are all hard on ourselves, but I could not get over certain things I had done. None of them were life-altering mistakes, but they were enough that I took a personal hit. I would let that stop me from moving forward or I would spend a profuse amount of time apologizing and improving to never do it again. Hell, I would find myself randomly thinking about awkward social moments from my high school days and how I should have played it out. I even remember incidents as a child—like five years old—that still make me cringe. I am a fully grown adult, I have a successful career, a side gig I love, a fabulous husband, an amazing kid, and I am by all means incredibly fortunate—so why the hell would these random thoughts creep up? I wish I knew…
What I do know is that sitting with those thoughts served nothing. I can’t change the past (nor do I really want to), the moments are so long gone I highly doubt anyone remembers them, and the toxicity of holding onto them was only holding me back. In the process of self-forgiveness/improvement/evolution, we have to recognize that we are not who we were when we made those mistakes and that everything changes. Those events taught us something, but we are not there anymore. We spend so much time clinging to irrelevant crap that we miss the next step in front of us. Don’t get so blinded by what was that you lose sight of what may come—I’ve said it before, I will say it a million times again. Don’t lose sight of what may come.
We can’t take away what we’ve done but we have the ability to make peace with it. We have the ability to integrate it and make it part of who we are and we have the ability to redefine who we are because of or in spite of what happens. It is all happening for us, not to us. I used to hate that. I mean, how can everything make sense when there are horrible things happening? But it hit me: if you’re witnessing something awful, if you’re experiencing something awful, you are the one meant to bring attention to it. You are meant to share that story. And if you’re celebrating and things are wonderful, you’re meant to share that too. The human experience is complicated, frustrating, exhausting at times, and even terrifying. But it is also beautiful, precious, simple, and exhilarating. Make the choice on how you want to see it. Even if this is a tough moment, keep looking for the next dot.