“Don’t regret your life child, it will pass soon enough.”
~ Jeanette Winterson ~
There’s a great video going around at the moment showing people’s biggest regrets (check it out at the bottom of this post).
It’s not regretting things they’ve done.
It’s all the stuff they haven’t done – and dreams they never took a chance on.
Is there anything in your life you regret not having gone after?
So why did you make choices that weren’t in line with what you really wanted?
The answer is simple –
You preferred avoidance.
But why would you avoid trying to get what you want?
Well first, consider this list of things we try to avoid:
…and the list goes on.
“People do not wish to appear foolish; to avoid the appearance of foolishness, they are willing to remain actually fools.”
~ Alice Walker ~
So avoidance is a way of coping with any of this discomfort – by not having to cope.
There are 2 main reasons why not coping seems like a pretty good idea.
1. You think it keeps you & your dream safe
Following your dreams might risk a few things on this list.
So obviously, you try to protect yourself from these potential discomforts.
You decide to go for plan B.
Even if it’s not exactly where you’d like to be heading – at least you won’t be that bummed out about anything not working out.
You tell yourself you’ll be happier or better off. You put time and effort into moving forward in plans B’s and C’s or even into things you just happned to ‘fall into’.
Plan A forever stays fresh, safe and unused wrapped in the box.
You get to keep it as the ultimate fantasy, rather than a real-life goal with all its uncertainties, flaws or work that might need to be done.
Sure, this means that plan A will never unfold, but at least it’s because you decided it won’t, not because it didn’t pan out as you hoped it would.
You put it securely in the plans/dreams box and store it away.
Staying only and forever a dream, you’re always able to successfully live it in your imagination.
You’re totally in control. Fuck yeah, you’re the ‘master of your destiny’ – making sure your dreams stay dreams.
“Avoid problems, and you’ll never be the one who overcame them.”
~ Richard Bach ~
You can live with that. After all, everyone’s got dreams and it’s just normal to not go after them, right? I mean, can you just imagine everyone going after their plan A’s…? Chaos, I tell ya.
Fear & the safety-lie loop
So you think you’re creating a sense of safety. You’re avoiding that risk of the unknown.
But holding onto fear only creates an illusion of safety.
And the more you hold onto it and make your decisions based on it, the bigger & stronger the fear becomes.
This makes it even more difficult the next time not to act on it.
This is why you continue to stay where you’re at. You’re kind of comfy. At least you know where you are and what’s going on.
You’re now held hostage by this lie.
You’re in a vicious loop.
For example, you might avoid quitting your job to start your dream business ‘cuz you want to maintain your financially stabililty.
You might say – “This isn’t avoidance. I’m trying to create financial security”. But as long as you stay in this job for this reason – the only thing you’ll be promoting or maintaining is even more of that anxiety around not having enough one day in the future.
So your sense of security is false.
“One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it.”
~ Proverb ~
2. You think you’re not ready
Sometimes you avoid something not entirely, but you put it off to some other time in the future. ‘One day’ you’ll be in some kind of better place or sufficiently inspired to do whatever it is you want.
But somehow, that day never comes. It keeps getting postponed, to some other better day when you’ll really be ready.
And so you suddenly find yourself ‘one day’ so involved with plan B or C, you prefer to abandon plan A ‘cuz it just seems too late.
It may not be your first choice and not super exciting but at least it’s already here, right?
Sometimes you even put so much of your effort into plans B or C, you end up being really successful, excelling at stuff you never wanted to begin with.
You might get acknowledged for it or rewarded. It might give you a sense of pride.
And you might feel OK with settling for this. Why fix what ain’t broken?
So what’s wrong with that?
These feelings of pride or reward are only temporary. Ultimately this leaves you feeling unfulfilled, uninspired, bored, frustrated and wanting more.
So you might be sulking at life. Or maybe you’re always onto the next goal in plan B or C, wanting to achieve something even bigger in the hope it will bring you some real satisfaction.
“A man is not old until regrets take place of dreams.”
~ John Barrymore ~
This lack of satisfaction later turns into regret, which is not only far less useful than fear, but also tends to feel much worse.
It can become so painful, it feels like grief – a loss, of something so dear to you you’ll never again have the chance to experience.
So how can you move forward?
1. Recognise it might not be too late
2. Work on your fears
They’re probably based on made-up subconscious beliefs and your past stories.
But there are ways you can become free of them.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to try and be free of doubts. And you don’t need to figure things out or know exactly how or when you’re gonna make things happen.
In fact, what you might label as ‘fear ‘ can be a great sign. It means that what you’re facing has the potential to give your life a good shake and take you to new levels of awesomeness.
3. Let go of feeling angry or sorry for yourself
“Regretting wasted time is more wasted time.”
~ Unknown ~
Spending the rest of your life regretting will only cause more of the same – regretting all the time you spent on regretting…
So just make a decision to accept that the past can’t be changed, and LET IT GO.
You might think this is easier said than done.
But there are actually some very simple & practical ways you can do that.
You can then begin to live without that heavy load you’re carrying, and who knows – it might open up new experiences and possibilties now that you’re more present?
4. Avoid more avoidance
How can you identify and avoid making any more avoidance decisions?
Look out for the wanting of some kind of safety.
By asking yourself – ‘Am I choosing out of WANTING TO CREATE or wanting to avoid?’ you’re more likely to avoid… those feelings of regret.
“Neither look forward where there is doubt nor backward where there is regret. Look inward and ask not if there is anything outside you want, but whether there is anything inside that you have not yet unpacked.”
~ Quentin Crisp ~
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