When I was single, I had an almost two-decade long regret hanging over my head. I was in my mid 20’s and waiting tables (at a Creole restaurant.) A mother, father, and son came in to eat. They seemed like such a happy family. Every time I came to the table they were giggling about something. I finally figured out what all the laughter was about when they were about to leave. They got up from the table and the mom points to her son and tells me, “He has something he needs to say to you.” And then the parents walk out of the restaurant leaving their son to talk to me alone.
At the time, I was newly brokenhearted as my boyfriend had just broken up with me. I was not emotionally ready to start a new relationship. I needed a minute. So when he asked for my number, I told him no. But I never forgot about how kind and friendly he and his family was. And with each future subsequent failed relationship, I would reignite the thought, “If only I had said yes. If only I had been ready.” A decade went by and I was still saying the same thing to myself. Five more years after that decade went by, the same thought. The recurring thought was agonizing because that regret served as a very painful reminder that I can’t go back and change the past. And what was so damaging about this particular regret was that I believed it also affected my future. I thought I missed my one chance and I would never get one like it again.
As much as I could, I contradicted that mental doom with the belief that although that was a missed opportunity, another one will present itself………… eventually. Well, I would believe it sometimes and then when having a less than optimistic moment, I would re-entertain the “all is lost” theory. And when regret from the past wasn’t enough misery for me, I included future regret to go along with it; I imagined how perfect my life would have been had I not blown it.
Misery and regret seem to be a package deal. If it’s true that misery loves company, regret takes pictures of the company and keeps showing you the photo album.
Misery intensifies your regret. And the worst thing about regret is that it creates a pathway to hopelessness. And the worst thing about hopelessness is that it has the ability to time travel. At first, you remind yourself of your past regrets, only to mentally time travel into the future and envision the dream never comes to life, all the while effectively numbing your present happiness and satisfaction. Aint that a b!+c#!
I believe in order to be free from the misery, we’ve got to identify the regrets and recognize them for the life stealing mothersugars that they are. Just in case you are not in the habit of calling out your regrets by name, here are a few of these life-limiting beliefs that need to be kicked to the curb:
It’s all over because I missed that one opportunity.
There was only one person for me and now that it will never be, I am doomed for life.
I am being punished for making a mistake.
If only I had said this.
If only I had done that.
Dear Single People, please kill the “if only’s” of your life. Please please stop worshipping a thought that only serves your misery. I think it is superhero brave to have faith in your dreams for the future when nothing around you supports your hopes. In my decade and a half regret vs. hope melange, God would remind me that I had faith superpowers; but the more I focused on my regret, the less I could see what good could be in store for me.
In the throws of my regret, I was, at best, able to dull its sting. But I never quite achieved freedom from it. Here’s to hoping that you can and will! If and when you do, please let me know about it.👍🏾