Every single day of our life we are faced with something that calls for us to make a choice. Good or bad, the ones we have to make that confront us at the proverbial “fork in the road” result in consequences that usually become part of the framework we prop our life against. Hopefully we look back on the choices we’ve made and, for the most part, feel good about them. However, every time we make a choice we must face the possibility of it turning into a regret.
While it is normal to have some feelings of regret when reflecting on the total sum of what is our life, focusing on regrets can become self-limiting, even destructive, if we become consumed by them. When consumed by regrets, they can distort the way we see our current life situation, thus convincing our heart we are unhappy, miserable, unworthy, etc. Unfortunately, in an effort to erase all-consuming regrets, we may resort to making emotionally charged choices that are destructive to our lives.
Life in a rear view mirror
It’s human nature to periodically look back to see where we’ve been in life. A sort of ‘life in the rear view mirror’ way of checking out the ground we’ve covered through the years. In a vehicle, when used as intended, the rear view mirror serves a valuable and helpful purpose. Of course, used inappropriately, and all sorts of problems can arise … even resulting in an accident.
The same is true with life … keeping our eyes on the past and we, ultimately, drive our life into a wall. I know because I lived so much of my life with my eye trained on the landscape behind me.
Interestingly, at least to me, is that my tendency to gaze behind and focus on every bad choice I ever made was more problematic when I was my “old active, be-bopping around self” – before illness impinged on my life. I would become consumed with regret over something I did/didn’t do, said/didn’t say, etc. And, for whatever reason, it made me look at my life in all shades of gray.
Time To Look Ahead
What in the world had I been thinking? What a waste of energy, of time … of my life! The frustration grew from realizing all the opportunities I missed … opportunities to make changes when it could have made a difference to my life – when I could have changed my point of focus which would have altered the direction my life was traveling.
It was after my life was turned upside down due to illness that I was impelled to look at things differently. One dark stormy day while watching clouds swiftly move across the sky I started thinking that was like my life – swiftly moving from one day to the next until the days blurred into weeks, months, and years.
Sitting in my wheelchair, the words “I hate this” kept going through my mind. Then, shifting my focus back to that dark sky outside, I watched the ever changing sky-scape where dense dark clouds were being pushed along by softer looking gray and white ones. I knew I needed to do much the same with my thoughts – push the weightier dark ones out of the way.
Gaze or Glance
I knew to do that called for control in how I looked at my life. Especially when looking back on my life, when looking in its rear view mirror. I tell myself I have a choice – gaze intently and scrutinize my every step until the doldrums set in and the regrets start eating at me. Or, I can glance back with the view point of appreciating where I am today, that I’m even here today. And as far as any regrets that pop into view, I try to maintain the mindset of learning something from them and moving on.
I’ve learned the value in looking at each day with fresh eyes. Every morning I tell myself the quality of my day, its basic tone, is up to me. I can approach the day with an appreciative, positive attitude …. or not.
Now, that doesn’t mean I go around all day, every day, singing “It’s a wonderful world”. I do have days where the yearning for my life as it once was is intense – the ache to walk, run, dance … to eat pizza, spaghetti, salad, an apple … to sit in a regular chair, wear heels, style my hair … etc. It could go on and on, however, when it seems the glance is turning into a gaze – when my thoughts move on to the things I wish I could change, to regrets – I force myself to stop then pull my focus ‘front and center’; to focus on everything I value, cherish, and appreciate that is right in front of me.
So, for me, no matter what turn life suddenly takes, whatever highs and lows are experienced – the measure of joy found in each day is tied to what I choose to focus on. The level of contentment in my life is in relation to how often I find myself looking back … do I glance or gaze at the life I see in my rear view mirror.
Have you ever thought about the way you look in your life’s rear view mirror?