In life, there is no right or wrong. There is no black and white. Everything is mostly in shades of color, and is really all about choices. We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we always choose how to react to something. As cliche as it sounds, we have the power within ourselves to choose, and with great power comes great responsibility. Every choice made has its own repercussions, and we can only hope that the consequences will be positive and reassuring. Every time we make a choice, we also have the power to readjust the choice by evaluating which road it has led us down. And that is the greatest power of all – we have the chance to make a new choice based on new-found knowledge from a previous decision.
This means, of course, that the system is not perfect. There will be times when you look back and see that somewhere along the line, your choices have steered to a path you don’t wish to stay on. And you may even look for that one key choice along the web that was flawed and led you astray. You will not rest until you find someone responsible, someone to blame – and it will most always be you. Since you have the power of your own destiny, it must be you who has failed your own self. Inevitably, regret, guilt, and shame will envelope you and convince you that you are not to be trusted with your decisions.
Well, this kind of thinking will just drive you mad! Although easier said than done, you have to overcome these irrational thoughts. They are irrational because you did not know then what you know now. You cannot blame yourself for making an educated choice to the best of your ability, with the brightest of intentions. You didn’t know how things would turn out, but you made the best decision at the time, with a little bit of faith. And a lot of the times, your decisions probably brought you to good outcomes. But you don’t pay attention to all of those times you got it right, it is the less-than-desired outcomes you focus on. That is human nature, to devote more energy to negative thoughts due to an unfavorable phase than to be grateful for the sea of good that has happened in your life.
- Be grateful for the things that went “right.” We must re-train our brain to appreciate all that is good, and give ourselves credit for getting us on that good path, most of the time.
- Accept that you cannot change the past. To err is human, and from time to time we will prove that we are human. Sometimes we will make a choice with unfavorable outcomes. But what’s done is done, and since no time machine has been invented to date, we must leave the past in the past and deal with the situation at hand.
- Take the unexpected turn of events as a lesson, not a curse. Just because you have suffered a setback doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to keep going. Having learned how you got into the mess, and having lived through the experience, you can keep going stronger than ever.
- Develop a healthy relationship with yourself. You are the only thing that you can be sure of. You have gotten yourself thus far on your journey, and you have to be able to rely on yourself to get yourself to where you want to be. You are the one living in your body, taking care of yourself, and thinking all of these thoughts. So appreciate yourself, value and cherish yourself, and most importantly, trust yourself. Most of us have a problem with this last point, because we tend to not keep our own word to ourselves. We need to get out of this habit, and make it the utmost goal for our word to matter to the person who matters most – your own self. Start with little things, like “I will go to bed at 10 p.m. tonight, no matter what” or “I will have a salad for lunch instead of pizza.” Gradually build up trust by keeping your promises to yourself.
- Forgive yourself. Think about all of the above, realize that you can only change the present and future, and promise yourself that you will do your best. Regret is useless and unfair, because you did not have all the facts back then. Meditate on it, take a bath, or write it down: “I forgive myself. I accept what I cannot change and I can move forward with my new knowledge and experience.”
From this point on, you can look at life as a series of choices, experiences, and lessons. Some will be more rewarding, others will be more teaching. In order to avoid harsh teachers, reevaluate your choices often. As soon as you see yourself veering off the desired path, make adjustments. Make another choice that will get you back on your true path.
The “true path” is different for everyone. Hence one decision may work for one person, and not work for someone else. We have to accept this and respect the right of others to choose. We can advise them to the best of our ability, but in the end, it is up to an individual to choose. And they have to reevaluate their own choices later on. The universe and karma usually help with showing the outcomes of a decision. If that’s not enough, when they are ready, they will seek out advice and that’s when other people can really help.
[Inspired in part by Still Standing.]