Our generation is afflicted with nostalgia. We live our lives in the past, we stagnate in the retrospective, we dwell in the conditional – we live by the persistent nagging question of “what if?”
And it’s bad enough that we reflect constantly on the past, but to imagine alternatives, to conjure dreams of a different reality, to wish you were in a place you can never find yourself – you’re only on the road to giving up. What we need to realize is that the past is the past for a reason – and it is meant to stay there, rooted and fixed as an unchangeable foundation from which you must grow.
Everything happens for a reason. And it might be hard to remember that when things don’t go your way or they don’t fully make sense to you – but I assure you it’s for your own good way down the road, if you come to realize it. We put too much effort in trying to control the uncontrollable – and essentially we stop living because the past trumps the present.
When something happens to you, instead of wishing things went a different way or asking yourself what if you had done something differently, you must look forward and learn from your experience. You have to let it go, because regret will fester in your mind and rot your life. When we focus on the past, we lose sight of the present – and it will only result in the present becoming the past you’ll regret more. It’s a vicious cycle.
Living in your past is not living at all. You need to master your present. You must seize life and all the opportunities presented to you. Bad things will happen to everyone. Curve balls will always be hurled at you, but once the pitch is in the catcher’s glove – it’s over. There’s no reason to dissect it, to relive it, to tear it apart – it’s gone.
“What if” can’t exist because life isn’t a sci-fi film, there are no time machines, nor remote control rewinds…the here and now is the only time. When you harp on the conditional, you’ve admitted to an unhappiness within yourself. But the reason you’re unhappy with the present is because you’ve never given a chance.
You’re wasting your time when you ask yourself: “What if?” It means you haven't adapted to or accepted what your life is now -- and you are cheating yourself. Life is about being in the moment and what you are doing right now. Analyzing what has already happened only takes away from your current experience and does nothing but slow you down and make you depressed.
Own up to the mistakes you might have made and let go, let go of the uncontrollable, understand that there is something greater awaiting you if you allow yourself to accept and stop saying the two dreaded words that are only holding you back. What has happened has happened and there is nothing you can do about it. At the time it probably seemed like the right decision for you and you went for it – there’s nothing to regret about going with your gut.
Constructing alternative realities and imagining variables that might have changed your situation resulting in a better present will get you nowhere. It’s just your mind playing tricks on you, kind of like how you think the grass is always greener on the other side.
The “what if” will fester into a lifetime of regret, where you take one instance of your life and allow it to carry over and drag it along with you -- it’s an unnecessary burden.
It detracts from the confidence in your decisions, you start second guessing yourself and you become afraid to actually do something, try something new or move on. It is detrimental because it carries over to all your aspects of life and can constantly hold you back to the point where you are too afraid to move because you are battling with yourself.
When you really think about it – what good does it do? Agonizing over your past brings you only pain and no gain. Trying to fit the puzzle or connect the dots of a thing that happened so long ago isn’t helping you overcome it. Life isn’t meant to be easy and it isn’t a finite puzzle to be solved.
It’s something you live. You did what you did. You’ll do what you do. And all you can hope is that you grow. So move on. Oscar Wilde said, “Experience is the name we give to our mistakes.” Learn from it; get over it. If you can’t control it, don’t sweat it. If you were an idiot, don’t be an idiot anymore.
Our generation is big on the easy way out. Relying on your “what if” is a blame game of excuses. If something doesn’t go our way, we dwell on all the possibilities that might have made it so. This gets us nowhere. Bullshit excuses and reasons ensure a lifetime of remorse.
You must learn from moving forward. If you are too much of a coward to own up to what has happened to you in your past, then the “what if” will always stay on your mind and regret will conquer your life.
Your present is the now and you have a clean slate. Life comes down to perception and if you constantly perceive it in your rear-view mirror, thinking in the conditional, you will end your time on earth reverberating the question, “What if…?” The good news is, hopefully, those thoughts end when you end.
Preston Waters | Elite.