Just over a year ago, I experienced one of the dumbest moments of my life. I had been living in Sydney for about a week and decided to go out with some of my new friends. I was in one of those overly excited, hyperactive moods that only seems to be funny to those you’re with, but not to anyone else. It was late at night and we were out walking, when we came across some very large rocks. And of course, as I was feeling particularly daring, I saw them and instantly decided I wanted to climb this obstacle course (I had actually seen a kid do it the previous week and presumed it’d be easy). It wasn’t long before I discovered I had underestimated my strength and the length of my legs, and fell backwards onto my back on the rock behind me. I laughed. And then I cried. I had actually seriously injured myself. And I think I’m still recovering from it today.
I’ve got lots of stories like this.
I presume that we all know what if feels like to do dumb things (please agree and make me feel normal). Mistakes and bad decisions that leave us feeling embarrassed, humiliated or disappointed with ourselves. There’s nothing like the frustration and devastation of realising that you’ve made the wrong decision, and that the consequences could have been avoided. Sometimes it could be just one impulsive choice in a moment that takes way too much of your time and energy to recover from. It’s called regret.
There’s nothing that frustrates me more than Sydney roads. One wrong turn and it could take 20 minutes to get back on track. No U-turn. No right turn. No other alternative routes. And it’s never a convenient time to get lost. Argh!
But a few years ago I made a decision that has saved me from SO much of this pain. I changed my mentality and decided to learn how to eliminate regret from my life. My aim is not to avoid mistakes, because they’re inevitable… it’s more about my determination to choose my reaction to these mistakes.
Because let’s be honest…regret is such a waste of emotion. You actually can’t go back in time and change your decision… So the emotional pain that you feel as you reflect on your negative choices rips you apart, and there’s no pain relief as you become frustrated with the consequences. You hit a dead end and have to start again.
I’ve discovered that if I can train myself to laugh about life (while sometimes also crying) and recognise the value of every experience, I don’t have to suffer so much.
OH NO! I took the wrong road… well I guess I’ll just embrace the opportunity to learn about the area I’m driving through. I was so disappointed with the flavour of ice cream I chose… well I guess it’s helped me decide that chocolate really is my favourite flavour. I just spent a year of my life studying a course only to quit… well now I know a lot of random facts, and I also understand what it’s like to be a Uni student. I just realised we weren’t right for each other, so we broke up… I just learnt so many valuable lessons about relationships, about myself and now feel so much more ready for the right one.
And now I have a wealth of knowledge & perspectives that I’d never had if I hadn’t made so many mistakes. I’m wiser. Stronger. More confident in my identity. Rich!
I also have countless stories that I love to tell people to either make them laugh or to help them avoid making similar mistakes.
Life is too short to get upset about things I can’t change. I can’t always determine my circumstances, but I can change my automatic response to be one of gratefulness rather than regret. Yes, mistakes hurt, but I’m grateful for them.
And I guess I’m also grateful that my friends now never let me climb those stupid rocks.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)