The Year in Review: Remembering versus Regretting

I think it is natural that when we think back on our past that we easily remember the difficult or painful times; those times where we messed up, felt pain or simply made the wrong choice.  We don't seem to remember the joyful moments of our past as easily; but rather have to stop and remind ourselves of those moments.

I believe this is natural. Our animal mind is built to remember the pain, not to dwell upon it with regret, but to recall the lesson learned. My mother used to tell a story, I was reaching to touch the element on the stove top, which of course would burn me if I did. She tapped my hand and told me no, yet I continued to try. She said I was so stubborn the back of my hand was red from her attempts to stop me…  but I touched it anyway.  She remembers the pain she felt trying to stop a stubborn child, the red on my hand. I don't recall any of that but do remember the feel of burned fingers. I learned very fast not to touch the hot burner on the stove. A simple lesson learned through pain. But I also learned a second lesson, listen to my mother.

As I think back on the past year, as many are doing as we come to the end of the year, I easily recall the painful moments. But, I don't dwell on the pain, loss or regrets. If I did, I would get lost in a negative head-space and either slip into depression or self shaming. Neither of these are healthy states of being. I know people who have fallen prey to this state of being and have seen them continue to suffer needlessly. Instead, I try to focus on the lessons learned, the love and kindness that I received and the ways I have grown from these moments of pain.

This past year was a very hard one.  There were a number of significant losses, including my mother. I have lost things that I thought were important to me, and lost friends I thought were loyal. But there were many other painful and scary moments. I have been places I never want to see again and met a few people I would rather avoid in the future.

But I choose to remember the love not the loss of my mother. I remember the things she taught me about life, love and God and how she set an example for me of how to face the world. I think of the good friends I held on to and the new ones that I have made. Those who have helped me through the tough times. As I see where I have been, I choose to find a lesson learned or feel blessed that I am no longer in the bad places and smile as I recollect the good ones. I choose to learn from the pain, never to touch the burner again.

I also stop to remember the good things that have happened to me.  I think about the friends that went out of their way to help me when I was in need, to visit me when I was at a low point, to love me when I felt alone.  I remember how blessed I was to not be affected by Hurricane Harvey when some around me lost everything. I am thankful for my health and strength and for a new beginning in starting my own business.

As you close out this year, think back and make a point to pick the moments of strength, joy and peace.  Celebrate these moments. As you think of the tough times, try to identify how you grew from the experience, and who helped you through.  As you consider a loss, recognize what you gained from once having what was lost.

Our perspective on the past is one of choice… for me I choose to see the positive; to learn and grow.  By doing this I know I am a better person today than I was a year ago.  I am blessed!

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. - Proverbs 15:13 & 15

May you choose a cheerful heart and find peace and growth as you look back on your experiences of the past year.


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