Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda

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A life lived with no regrets …

Who really does that? Who goes through life without couldas, shouldas and wouldas? Aren’t those three things sort of unavoidable? It sounds like an impossible dream to me.

If I woulda paid more attention in school, I coulda been a doctor or something. Shoulda done it.

If I woulda listened to all of my aunts when they warned me not to eat that way because one day, I would wake up and be 40 and all of those calories would suddenly appear on my body. Maybe, I coulda avoided unsuccessful and somewhat costly stints with Weight Watchers and Noom. Shoulda listened.

These regrets are like little, stabby needles that seem to poke at the most sensitive moments, too. The weight thing is lurking in every fitting room, ready to jab when I am irrational about my actual size and want to try on something that may have fit me 20 years ago.

If you understand where I am coming from, I have great news for both of us: We can live a life free of regret. It’s true!

The third Saturday in July is your shot. It’s Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day. Who could make this up?

A motivational speaker/author, that’s who. Her name is Martha J. Ross-Rodgers, and she came up with this “day.” All you need to do is get a pen and a piece of paper – or a whole notebook, depending on you – and start writing. Make a list of all your shoulda, woulda, couldas. Just get them all down in black and white.

Once you have your list, take care not to review it too thoroughly, lest you lose the point of this exercise and drown yourself in a sea of self-pity.

Next, toss that list in the trash and make this pledge, “From this day forward, I choose not to live in the past. The past is history that I cannot change. I can do something about the present; I choose to live in the present.”

Then, wash your hands of all that remorse. You do not have to literally wash your hands; that wasn’t in the official instructions for Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day.

All these years of therapy and countless therapists and all I had to do was write a list and throw it away with a solemn pledge?

What happens if an old regret comes into your mind and you can’t remember if you wrote it on the list you threw away? You have a new regret, that’s what. “Shoulda kept that list.”

There is something to be said for the whole “living in the present” thing.

The number one item on my list of regrets has to do with wasted time – all the time I wasted, all of the “right nows” I missed out on because I was too busy wishing for a better past.

If I am really honest with myself, had I done all of those things I thought I shoulda, I coulda gone my whole life without some of the amazing people and experiences that make up my story.

I woulda missed out on a lot.

 

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