Leave the Past Alone and Make the Present Perfect

Photo courtesy of TooFarNorth
I spent a great deal of my twenties and early thirties dwelling on the past - thinking about what I should have done differently or wishing I could go back and choose an alternate ending like in those Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’ve spent hours embroiled in bitter ruminations about how my life might have turned out if I hadn’t acted a certain way at what I considered (in hindsight) to be critical turning points in my life story.  Truth be told, for many years, I spent more time in the past than I did in the present.

I was the antithesis of the person who lives her life with “No regrets.” I had more regrets than I knew what to do with. I was literally obsessed with my actions in the past that I had no way of rectifying. When a friend of mine urged me to explain why I was filled with so much remorse about situations that had absolutely no real bearing on my present life, I had an ‘a-ha’ moment. By spending so much time in the past, I had forgotten that what I do have control over is the present.

It’s ok to feel bad about something you did or didn’t do years ago that perhaps you might do differently if given a second chance, like lying to a friend or not helping someone when you should have. But if you’re finding yourself haunted by the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda about life-changing choices, here’s the thing: there is definitely something amiss, but to find the solution, you’re going to have to start looking in the present instead of the past.

Regardless of whether you’re living in the past, future or in an alternate universe altogether – ask yourself why you aren’t living in the now. Instead of looking backward or forward or at the greener grass on the other side of the fence, look in the mirror. Re-evaluate your life and re-configure your plans so that you can start enjoying every minute as it comes. Determine what you want your life to look like and make a plan to get there. If your present isn’t perfect, do some conjugation until your life is in exactly the right tense.

Find out what other obstacles might be impeding your present happiness with a great book by David Viscott - Emotionally Free – Letting Go of the Past to Live in the Moment.


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    • Rachel

      Do you have any idea how much this hits me to very core of my being?  *sigh* Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda is my middle name. Working things out but it’s so hard.  Thanks for the inspiration.

      • Adrienne McGuire

        I think a lot of people spend a lot of time fantasizing about how their lives “coulda” turned out. For me, I just needed to realize that I was stuck in the past because I wasn’t happy NOW. It had nothing to do with the past, though. I just needed to make changes. Now I spend almost all of my time enjoying my current life!

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