Should-a. Would-a. Could-a.
About a year ago, a blackboard was hung in the middle of New York City with the words "What is your biggest regret?" written at the top of it. Throughout the day, people would walk by the blackboard and write down what they regretted most in their lives. Some wrote that they wish they would have furthered their education, some wrote that they wished they would have burned less bridges with the people that they loved. Many of them focused on the things that they wanted to do, but never made/had the opportunity. One woman even said that she lived her life going through with her plan B.
This social experiment sent a powerful message because the common denominator for most of these regrets were about the things that people did NOT do in their lives, but always wanted to.
For example, some of the messages on the board included:
-Not pursuing an MBA
-Not going to medical school
-Not traveling extensively
-Not taking better care of themselves
Regret is defined as "feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity)." It's often the result of poor decisions or choices that we've made in our lives. Many times we learn from these mistakes and those lessons help propel us forward feeling stronger, empowered and proud.
However, regrets can sometimes be so powerful that they prevent us from moving forward in our lives. This happens because we are stuck reliving these choices and beating ourselves up. Maybe you stayed in an unhealthy or unsatisfactory relationship longer than you wanted to. Perhaps you made an investment or a career choice that had a significant financial impact. The "should haves, could haves and would haves" in life will haunt you if you allow it.
If. You. Allow. It.
You have the power to determine whether or not your past will hinder your future. Your mind is an
amazing tool and based on your frame of mind, you can determine whether you're ready to let go of your regrets or choose to hold onto them.
All too often, those of us who are emotional eaters will find solace from our regrets in food. In order to be successful in your personal weight loss journey, you must come to terms with the regrets from your past that bind you to unhealthy eating habits.
Here are a few suggestions to help you push past the regrets that may be holding you back from moving forward:
The pity party. If I tell you to let it all go and never think about it again, you'd snicker and stop reading this. If it was that easy, then most of us wouldn't struggle the way we do about our lives and our past choices.
It's actually important for us to feel regret from time to time because it's part of the human experience.
The key is to not hold onto it forever.
If you have a strong inclination to focus on your regrets, only allow yourself to do so for a limited time. Go ahead and throw yourself a pity party. Allow yourself to think about past choices and decisions, be aware of the feelings that surface as a result. Think about the choices you made and reasons why you made those choices at the time. It's important that you come to terms with those emotions and once you own them, let them go.
If you have a hard time letting go, visualize yourself taking those feelings and leading them to the front door of your house. Throw them out as if they were uninvited guests and then lock the door behind them.
What is the lesson? I firmly believe that there are lessons to be learned throughout life. When we make poor choices, we often learn from the repercussions of those decisions.
Think of your biggest regret. Can you think of the lesson that you learned as a result of that experience? Did it make you stronger? Did it provide you with some insight that helped you make more successful choices since that time? Did it teach you to avoid certain situations and/or people in the future?
This isn't easy, but try to find the positive within the negative. If you don't see it right away, then write it down. Eventually, you'll find it because there's always a silver lining.
One of my regrets is not taking better care of myself sooner. I feel as if I wasted years of my life being overweight and unhappy. I can focus on all those years of misery and self loathing, or I can applaud my accomplishment and realize that I'm stronger than I thought I was. Most importantly, I know now that I don't have to be on a restricted diet and feel deprived. I can be healthy and be happy.
Acceptance: It isn't easy to come to terms with your past mistakes and own up to them. Before I started my weight loss journey, I had to own up to my past failures. I had spent thousands, yes, thousands of dollars on weight loss diets, programs, medications, shakes, bars, cookies, pre-made foods and therapy. I could say that none of that worked, but it did. It helped shape me into who I am today. It helped me make the choice to do it on my terms this time. It's because I accepted myself that I was able to move forward. Beating myself up for past choices was pointless and a waste of energy. Acceptance was my key to moving forward, it is yours too.
Focus on your future. If you think that you have no hope for a good life in front of you then you're not going to ever get past your regrets. After you accept your past, it's time to move into the future. Set goals for yourself, take steps everyday towards those goals and have faith that you can do it.
Remember that every small step forward is better than being chained to your past. Every step forward moves you in the right direction. It pushes you further away from your past, your choices, your regrets and puts you on the pathway to success.
Stay on that path, keep putting one foot in front of the next and keep on going.
In case you're curious, here's a video of the social experiment I mentioned at the start of this blog. Take a few minutes to watch it, it's quite impacting: http://aplus.com/a/clean-slate-blackboard-experiment
Bee healthy. Bee happy.