Episode 32: Such an Easy Game to Play
In today’s episode, I’m gonna share with you my three step process for eliminating regret in your life once and for all.
Honorable Mentions in Today’s Episode
I am lowkey a huge Whoopi Goldberg fan.
I was today years old when I figured this out. In Episode 30, I referenced her character in Ghost, Oda Mae Brown. Today I’m referencing another Whoopi Goldberg movie by the name of Sister Act II.
In this sequel, Sister Mary Clarence takes her talents to a Catholic high school and turns their choir around as well as the students themselves. One student in particular stands out. A young lady by the name of Rita (played by the fantastic Ms. Lauryn Hill). At first Rita is a rebel without a cause, but she comes around. Oh, and can this girl sing, ya’ll. One of my favorite music scenes of all-time is her and her friend singing “His Eye is On the Sparrow” in the church. Gives me chills even to this day.
Anyhoo, one evening Rita is jamming on some music stuff when her mama comes home. Mama is not happy to find Rita working on music and proceeds to lecture her on how singing does not put food on the table. She then moves on to say, “There are a lot of talented people right down there on the street singing their shoulda coulda woulda’s. Now is that how you want to end up?”
Which brings me to today.
Do you know anyone who spends a copious amount of time singing their shoulda coulda wouldas? Are you one of them? Well, I want you to know that you are not alone. I know plenty of people who be singing they shoulda coulda woulda’s and I gotta keep it real: I have often joined the choir myself (sat in the Alto section and everything). That’s why it’s so important that we talk about this particular subject, so that it doesn’t rob you of your precious energy and this beautiful present moment.
When I think of the phrase,” shoulda coulda woulda,” I think of the word “regret.” I love looking up the definition of words, especially words that I think I already know what they mean. Regret means to “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).”
Haven’t we all been there before?
Hindsight is 20/20. When you finally know better, you do better and then sometimes you think about all of the things you woulda done differently had you known then what you know now.
“Had I known he was a loser, I wouldn’t have wasted 9 years of my life on him.”
“Had I known that I’d end up smack dab in the middle of a financial recession, I would’ve saved and invested my money better.”
“If I could turn back the hands of time, I wouldn’t have taken that one semester break from college that has lasted 6 years. Shooo, had I not stopped, I wouldn’t be in this situation now -- only lacking 3 classes to graduate. I’m so close, yet I’m so far.”
“I wish I had told my mom how much I loved her before she died.”
“I wish I had been a better friend.”
We all have things in our past that we aren’t proud of, that we probably wish we could change. It’s only after something has happened and the smoke has cleared and we start to reflect on our lives, that this phenomenon known as regret can set in. Regret is a constant reminder that our life could be completely different had the chips fallen differently or had we chosen differently.
If we aren’t careful and we stop being vigilant, we can get caught up in some nasty negative autopilot thoughts that keep us from enjoying our lives now. That’s why I wanted to do this particular blogcast episode, so that I can share with you my three step process for transforming your relationship with the past.
Okay, let’s begin:
1. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from that situation? That person? That choice I made?”
As human beings, we have an innate aversion to failure. Some of us have it more than others. The reality is that everyone, even Beyoncé, fails. It’s not the failing part that matters. It’s what you do after that failure that matters.
I have found that I’ve had to change my personal definition of failure to help me keep moving forward. Ya’ll, I have failed all over the place -- in my career, my business, my love life, my finances, my friendships. You name it and ya girl done failed. I have a plethora of things to regret in my life.
Like the time I ran away from home when I was 11 years old and almost gave my mom and my grandparents a heart attack. My mom says that she’s always regretted that night because it was the only night that she didn’t come to my room and say, “Good night, mija. I love you.”
Or the time I got myself into a financial pickle. I talked all about that in Episode 26, so if you haven’t checked that out, please do.
The time I left Lyric napping on the bed to grab a quick bite to eat and she rolled off the bed. Granted, my bed is super low to the ground and she landed on a pillow and was more startled than anything. However, I cried for a good hour afterward.
(Oh, and don’t judge. That’s not good.)
Like I said. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Things we’d do differently or that we wish no one knew about. I’m just sharing my story in the hopes that you don’t feel so alone and that you can change the relationship that you have with your past.
When I find myself getting swept up in the cyclone of regret, I have found it to be more powerful to start looking for the gold. I believe that life gives us little specks of gold in every situation, so that we have to turn down the volume on the mental chatter, get really present and really intentional so that we find those gold specks even in the murkiest of situations.
All of the things that I regret, the things I’ve failed at, the things that I wish I’d done differently have taught me something -- about myself, about how NOT to do something (which is oftentimes just as important as learning how to do something), about God’s grace, a lot of things.
The questions I didn’t get right on a test taught me how to solve them correctly.
The personal fallout I felt when I left the music business taught me how to honor myself and to set healthy boundaries between my work and personal life. I didn’t know how to do that before that fiasco.
When my high school teacher, Mrs. Washington, (who was instrumental in helping me develop my leadership skills and finding my way to college) passed back in 2011, I regretted that I didn’t keep in touch with her as frequently as I would have had I known she’d be leaving so soon. I took for granted that she’d always be here. That taught me to always check in on my people (as soon as they enter my mind) and to tell them that I love them. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but I got so much better after her passing.
Even though I still battle with regret, I do try to look for the lesson.
What did this teach me and what can I do differently or look out for, moving forward? Letting that lesson keep me in flow instead of staying stuck in the past and a vicious cycle of mentally bashing myself over and over again.
2. Bring your focus back to the present.
Our thoughts are pretty sneaky. It’s funny how a structurally simple one sentence thought can send us spiraling into our archives. Before we know it, physically we’re in 2019, but mentally we’re regretting stuff that happened when Prince was singing about partying like it’s 1999.
Have you ever stopped to think how much energy and mental capacity you give to the past?
I’d say that most humans are either somewhere stuck in regretting the past or worrying over a future that hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, they’re missing out on this present moment. The one right here.
I can remember a time when I was so glued to my Blackberry (OMG, am I showing my age? This was like 12 years ago, okay and Blackberry Messenger was my jam!), so much so that I preferred that little screen and its notifications more than I preferred the person I was having dinner with (even if it was a person that I absolutely adored). I look back and shudder at all of the great moments I probably missed out on because I was too obsessed with my phone. I still have that tendency now with my iPhone and all of the apps -- Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat. Sometimes I’ll even nerd out on LinkedIn because people tend to post fantastic business articles on there.
All the while, I am missing out on this moment.
The same goes for you and regret.
If you spend most of your time thinking about what could have been, what should have been, what might have been had only you x, y, z’d, you’re missing out on today.
I want you to consider that today is tomorrow’s yesterday.
You gotta start breaking that cycle of always being in the past because one day in the future you may be regretting what you did with this beautiful chapter of your life right now.
This is something I’m trying to be intentional with right now because of my daughter. You know I can’t go an episode without mentioning Ms. Lyric, the greatest guru I’ve ever had.
Can you believe that yesterday she turned 2? She is so important that the entire country celebrated her with fireworks.
Anyhoo, in two short years, she has taught me to really be present because, even when time seems like it’s dragging, it’s actually going by really fast.
I remember our first year together and I was struggling, ya’ll. I often say I now know why sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
(Shout out to all the mamas out there. I see you, girl.)
Anyhoo, it’d be late at night and she’d be up and I’d be feeding her, rocking her, changing her diaper, watching the digital clock change numbers slow as molasses. I can remember wondering, “When is this baby gon’ go to sleep? Am I going to be able to set her down without her waking up?” Time felt so slow
Now here we are. My little girl changes daily and I am thrilled and nostalgic all at the same time. If I even so much as blink, it’s likely that I’ll miss out on new words, new actions, new facial expressions. She is always reminding me to be here in this present moment because, let me tell you, I want to enjoy her. I prayed for her for 3.5 years and she’s here, so mama is gon’ soak up all this goodness as her journey evolves over time.
She’s taught me to find the joy in doing something silly like hopping around like a frog for no real reason. I don’t have to put on airs with her or try to be more than I am. She thinks everything I do pretty funny and the first thing she usually says when she wakes up is, “Hi, Mami.” Takes my breath away.
I know that over time our relationship will evolve and so I try really hard to be here and to enjoy where we are right now because I won’t be able to get that back once it’s gone.
I want to encourage you to start doing the same right now. Sure, your life is not perfect. You are dealing with break-ups, paying bills, sickness, self-doubt, fear. Real stuff.
There’s so much goodness right now.
If you can’t find examples in your own life, get outside more. Spend five minutes looking up at the sky and not just during the day. When the sun rises, when it sets. Even when it’s raining, the sky is gorgeous. I once drove through a lightning storm on my way from Austin to Houston. That was pretty scary and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed.
I remember one time Mama Terry and I went to North Park Mall in Dallas. We entered the mall over there by Kona Grill.
Anyhoo, I wanted to get a move on and get to the stores, so I start walking. I’m thinking my mom is right next to me and I start talking and I look and she’s not there. Turns out, she had stopped to admire a little flower garden installation that was right at the entrance of the mall.
I’m like, “Mama, what are you doing?” She said, “Tish, you gotta stop and admire the flowers while you can.”
(I think my mom was my first life coach, ya’ll.)
I’ve found meditation to be really helpful in cultivating the ability to ground down in the present moment. At any given time, there are literally a million things vying for your attention, the past being one of them.
Meditation is the practice of bringing your awareness back to the present moment.
A lot of people think that it’s about stopping yourself from thinking. That’s BS. Your mind is designed to think and it will continue to think as you meditate. The actual meditation is you actively choosing to stay here in the present moment, instead of following that one thought that popped into your mind and took you back to what your doctor said in your appointment last week.
Even if that happens, you can still say, “Oops. My bad. Back to the present moment.” Over and over again.
That trains you to develop that habit of “Ahh, snap I did it again. I’m mentally in the past thinking about what I should’ve said to my high school boyfriend when I found out he cheated on me. Physically I’m here in my office, wearing my favorite blouse staring at my daughter’s picture with Santa that’s framed in a bright red frame. Back to the present moment.”
And you keep doing that over and over again as many times as you need. Eventually, you’ll find that your default mode isn’t to go back to the past. It’s to stay right here where you are.
3. Embrace the gift you’re being given.
If you’re a member of the Honey Bunny Inner Circle (the HBIC), you know that I recently started sending out a monthly newsletter that jams on what I’m reading, listening to, products I’m loving, my goals for the month, so on and so forth.
Last month I started “Backstage Access,” which is an audio experience exclusively for the HBIC. In my first episode, if you will, I answered the question, “What was your most negative self image you overcame?”
(See, what had happened was I sent out a survey and I asked my HBs, “What would you like to know about my self-love, personal development story?” I got some amazing questions and that was one of them.)
Anyhoo, in that first episode, I explained that I don’t believe I’ve overcome any of my negative self-images. They’re all still very much with me. Pretty much at any moment, I am being tempted, or shall I say I’m being given the choice of whether or not I want to give those negative self-images the time of day.
Do I indulge these negative self-images or do I choose to focus on something else?
That’s my superpower. I get to choose what I focus on.
It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve come to the conclusion that those negative self-images give me an opportunity to practice loving myself no matter what. No matter what I look like. How much money I make. Despite the mistakes I’ve made in the past. The times I didn’t show up as the highest version of myself. The times I’ve hurt people or said ugly things
Those negative self-images really give me the opportunity to love myself no matter what.
The same goes for you.
The past and any regret that you may feel over what you did, what you didn’t do, how things turned out, people that got hurt, how the past has affected you today, all of that ISH, if you will, is giving you a really big gift and that’s the opportunity to practice loving yourself despite all of it.
The truth is that you deserve love, kindness, compassion, no matter what, because you are a child of God.
(One day I’m gonna have to go back through the archives of FTFRWLC and do an analysis. I would bet that in every episode there’s a mention of tremendo a-ha moments, tremendo tangents, “You are a child of God” and somehow I’m working Beyoncé, Lyric and Mama Terry into the conversation. I’m gonna put that on my to-do list.)
Anyhoo, it’s true. You’re a child of God. As a parent, I can tell you that there’s nothing in this world that would ever stop me from loving my daughter. I’m an imperfect human being. I’m not God. So the love I feel for my child is a tiny speck of gold compared to the love that God has for each of us and for all of us.
You are more than your biggest mistakes. You are enough regardless of your failure. You are precious despite any regrets you may have.
I hope that you’ll take what I’ve shared with you today and try it out real-time when the past hi-jacks your mind and starts telling you a story of how you never have done anything right or how you screwed this up or that up and how you’re not deserving of a second chance or worthy of real love.
Ain’t that bout a whole bunch of malarkey, HB.
You don’t have to go down that rabbit hole. Ask yourself, “What did I learn from that?” Once you’ve done that, come back to the present moment and embrace the gift you’re being given: another opportunity to practice self-love. No matter what.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment on the blogcast page for today’s episode and let me know your greatest takeaway. It really means a lot to me when I hear from you, so holla at ya girl, porfis.
I’m cheering for you. Like your future does every single day.