Over and over as I work with clients and students, as they learn to understand and manage their emotions, when they look back at their lives they see choices and actions they now know they would do differently.
They notice relationships they mishandled, choices they would make differently, behavior that led them astray, and so on. I do the same thing. I think of relationships I lost, school and job choices I missed, maturity I lacked, and so on. I know how to do things better now.
Sometimes I lament with my clients and students, empathizing with them at what we lost and missed.
But then I stop. You can’t change the past. I point out how looking back after you improve some behavior or emotional skill always works out that way.
Then I suggest looking forward. Then you start seeing new possibilities you couldn’t have conceived of before. You realize what more you can do with your relationships, your plans, your emotional state, and so on than you could before. You can’t wait to reach the future.
So I recommend when you learn new skills to look forward, not backward. I don’t recommend holding off on learning skills because of the regrets you might face, as some do. Improving will be worth realizing you used to be below your potential.
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