That’s an ideal. To stop punishing the me today by regretting the stuff that who I was, even yesterday, did do or didn’t do, or said or didn’t say. Ideals are there to inspire not become a reality. If I try to make the ideal a reality, I’ll end up getting annoyed at myself if I don’t live up to it which will lead to more kicking of self every time I stray from the ideal.
It is important to remember that I am human. You are human too. Those others who seem perfect from a distance are also human.
Have you ever looked at someone else who seems to have the perfect life, the one you may secretly want and kick yourself for not having, and wondered why they’re not happy or as happy as you would be if you had their life? Because just like you and me, they are looking back and kicking themselves now for what they did or didn’t do then, without thinking that then they were doing the same thing as they are doing now, looking back and regretting. And really, the choices we make are influenced by the circumstances of the moment… those moments are lost in time and the circumstances are too. We only tend to remember the bit which sticks in our gut, and our memory is skewed, usually against us.
20/20 hindsight is a smug ass who has nothing better to do that tut… where was it when the decision was being made? Probably hiding somewhere because it knows… nothing except in retrospect.
Humans are a mess. A lovely contradictory mess. Yes, humans can be horrible too, but without the horrible how would we know when we meet the lovely. Unfortunately we need opposites… sometimes the unfortunate can become fortunate and the fortunate becomes unfortunate. So, perhaps, fortunately we need opposites.
I say and do a lot of stupid things, I tend to regret not saying and doing the clever things… but were they really clever or do I just think they were because I didn’t say them or do them so I will never find out how stupid they were. And are the stupid things really stupid?
There have been many instances of self-kicking which have ended up turning into pats on the back, when something I thought was stupid became the source of something wonderful. By many instances I mean enough for me to know better than to be so self-judgmental… yet I still am, and then I kick myself for doing it. Argh!
I often find myself thinking when listening to someone talk, talking about something they regret doing or not doing or saying or not saying – Stop being so hard on yourself, cut yourself some slack. Then I catch myself thinking that and kick myself. You do it too, I say to myself. Yes, and because I do it I know how it feels and… I was going to say what a waste of mortal life it is, but is it?
Why do we do that? Regret stuff and kick ourselves now for who we were the other day?
It must serve a purpose other than just being a sadomasochistic hobby.
Sometimes doing something we consider foolish can be the best thing for us. It can be a liberating experience, especially if you’re very controlling of yourself. Self control is useful and at times needed, however too much self control can become a form of solitary confinement where everything you say and do becomes a reason to kick yourself.
And when you kick yourself, sometimes you miss and end up kicking someone else, and then that becomes yet another thing to regret. The more you kick yourself, the more the chances of kicking someone else, by accident or on purpose, increase.
You often see writing prompts asking you – If you could travel back in time (bad idea though it seems excellent) to a point where you made a life-altering decision and give the you who you were then some advice based on the experience you have now of how things turned out, what would you tell yourself?
Tempting to do that… but with me it’s still going to end up at this point here now where I regret one choice, wish I’d made another, but I am aware enough to know that all other decisions would have led to my regretting whatever decision I made.
Not because I’m a fuck up, in some ways I am, but because one choice has consequences, no matter the choice, and those consequences, good, bad, neither one nor the other, lead to other consequences and so on… so most results are a funny old mix of stuff, some we like and others repel us, and then there are the bits we don’t notice. Sometimes the ones we don’t notice are the most important.
Looking back is something worth doing for information, for awareness, but not if all you do with it is use it to kick yourself. Ouch! Stop it! Ouch! No really… stop! Ouch! Okay, this is getting habitually annoying!
You’re great! You have survived the challenge of being alive, and are still surviving it, cut yourself some slack… give yourself a gift! You cut other people slack all the time, keep some back for yourself, you need it and deserve it!