Of course, if we could go back and change the past then we would. If we could, we would make the necessary changes and the present wouldn’t ever be what it is.
If there was ever such a thing as a rewind button, then this would mean we could unsay what we said and undo what we did and there would be no such thing as regret.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
They say there is a reason for everything. And I suppose this is true. There is a reason why we laugh and why we smile. There is a reason why we look back and why we wish we could relive certain moments exactly as they were. There is a reason why we wish we could redo what we did and unsay what we said sometimes. And no, unfortunately life is not like a game we played as kids — and something unfair would happen and someone would call for a “Do-over.” I’ve called for this a few times in my life. Unfortunately, the option wasn’t available at the time.
Life is filled with unavoidable lessons. Life is filled with both disappointment and heartbreak. We go through loss. We suffer and we fight. Nothing is ever perfect. No one can say they’ve done everything exactly as they wanted. All we can do is live and learn and appreciate every moment for what it is.
The one thing I learned about regret is regret becomes an emotional quicksand. And shake and you try, you dig and you claw, and no matter what you do, the deeper you sink. Regret does this. Blame, fault, and shame do the same thing. They all lead towards more of the same. Doubt leads to more doubt. Loss leads to anguish. Complaints and resentments lead down the same path — and the truth is no one wants to go down this road, but yet, everyone finds themselves here at some point in their life.
There is something to the emotionally claustrophobic sense of rejection; especially when meanwhile, all we want is to feel right or to be justified and validated. Look, let’s call this for what it is — Rejection sucks. No one likes it. No one wants it but at the same time; into each life a little rain must fall.
One of my favorite lines from Mark Twain is, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” I say this is true for all of us, both, man and woman alike.
Then again, there is the philosophy of Albert Camus who said, “Man is the only animal who refuses to be what he is.” And again, I say this is true for many of us. We dress and we hide, we disguise and we camouflage our truths because somewhere, somehow, a mark of shame or regret has led us to the path of assumed rejection. And rejection is a bitch because we find ourselves acting on its behalf.
With regards to the unchangeable facts of our life and when it comes down to the unalterable aspects of life beyond our control; in the face of it all, there is only one hope, which is to surrender and embrace ourselves for what and who we are.
There will always be a glitch in the system. I know this. I can say there have been times when I spoke, or should I say there have been times when I misspoke and the last words I said repeated in my head with a sense of foolishness. I wished I could take it back. I wished I could unsay what I just said but it was too late, And there were times like this when I said something out of emotion or spoke foolishly. I felt exposed and stupid. I felt the immediate sense of regret and my last words repeated in my head.
I felt the automatic shame and the more I tried to unsay or re-say the right thing, the worse it seemed.
This is no different from the hamster running in the wheel in its cage. Run, run, run, as fast as it can but nothing happens. And with us, nothing happens, except for anxiousness, and all this does is lead to personal exhaustion. And then what?
What does shame or regret and rejection do except drown us in our own sad contempt? More importantly, how do we keep from being the hamster on the wheel? How do we stop ourselves from sinking in the emotional quicksand and embrace who and what we truly are without the uneasiness of insecurity?
That’s the question.
I was somewhere around the age of 17 when I first heard The Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I have grown since the age of 17. I have aged and I’ve improved. I’ve grown more maturely in some ways and yet, there are times I wonder if I am less mature now. But above all things; I am who I am. I have to embrace this; otherwise, I will fight myself and beat myself and sink deeper into the emotional quicksand.
I know there are things I wish I can do over. I wish I could unsay a list of things I said to people that I love so dearly. I wish there was a way to dig back into the past and stop myself before I ever spoke. However, the truth is no matter how I try there is no possible way to re-litigate the past.
The most unmanageable feeling comes to me whenever I try to manage the unmanageable. This means I have a hand in the self-propelled degradation we call shame.
All I know about me is I am flawed. I make mistakes. I say things I wished I never said and I’m sure this will happen again throughout my life. I can nurture this idea, or, I can nurture the lessons I’ve learned from my past.
I can nurture the fact that so long as I remain teachable then I can have the chance to improve my future so that my past will never happen again.
Sure, everything happens for a reason. And sometimes we are the reason. This is when we call upon the courage to change the things we can because otherwise, if we and when we focus on the unchangeable — then we do nothing else but go back to being the hamster on the wheel. Run, run, run, as fast as we can; only to go nowhere, and be stuck with nothing else but more of the same anxiety and exhaustion.
There is nothing worse than being tired of feeling tired.
So, let me ask you something. . . .
Are you tired yet?