When I was a young girl of around ten, I would sometimes sit with an elderly lady I knew and listen to her raves about getting old. She would tell me tales of being a young chicken during World War II and how exciting it was to be wooed and gifted chocolates and pantyhose by the visiting American soldiers. I had little understanding of what she was talking about (Pantyhose? Weird choice of gift?), but I listened with interest anyway.
The stories always had a common theme – they would always end with a warning not to ‘get old’. And in the ensuing years I have come across several more ‘old’ people who have a similar air of unhappiness and regret to them. People who talk fondly of their younger years but clearly have regrets about the things they didn’t achieve in their lifetimes.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what some of these common LIFE REGRETS are, and what we can all do NOW – no matter what age or stage we’re at - to avoid them. Here’s what I came up with.
5 Life Regrets and How to Avoid Them:
Not being TRUE to you
The most important thing we can do to get - and maintain - a sense of fulfilment in our lives (and not have deathbed regrets!) is to be true to OURSELVES. How do we know if we’re being true to ourselves? By paying attention to how we feel - at any given time, about any given situation. We all have intuition and we all have answers inside, but we get so caught up in what others are doing, and advising US to do, that we forget to listen to our GUT feeling. Remember always - if something FEELS right – it usually is. If something feels WRONG – it’s probably best to avoid it.
Worrying excessively about what OTHERS think
Listen to other people by all means. Observe them and how they are living their lives and think about what you can do to make your life happier and more fulfilled. But leave it at that! Don’t allow yourself to get SO hung up on what everybody else is doing, and what everybody else thinks that you should be doing (or not doing) that you lose YOURSELF. Let others live their life, and focus your energy on living YOUR best life. I made the mistake for many years of being a people-pleaser. I sacrificed happiness and inner peace because of a false belief that everybody else knew what was best for me. Don’t make that mistake!
Not appreciating the PRESENT moment
The past is the past, so leave it there. It is fine (and necessary) to learn from the mistakes of the past, but don’t settle there permanently. Life is continually evolving - change is the one thing we can be certain of! If life hasn’t turned out how you wished or hoped it would, it is not too late to take action. Take steps now to change what needs to be changed, while learning whatever needs to be learned from what happened previously. Too many of us, I’m sure, don’t live our best lives – lives where we are living to our fullest potential – because we believe it is too late and that our time has passed. The present moment is where it is at – make the most of NOW!
Things left UNSAID
On your deathbed it is the people that you have loved, and who have loved you, that will be foremost on your mind. So say what needs to be said while you still have the chance. Tell your loved ones that you LOVE them. TELL them that you have bad days and that you get cranky and that you’re not perfect. Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to have authentic relationships with the people you love - allow room for the good AND the bad. It is not always easy to open ourselves fully to the people in our lives, but life is SO much sweeter when we do. We’re all busy and it can be all too easy to let time pass without saying what needs to be said. Be mindful of this always - don’t leave room for regret here.
Sweating the SMALL stuff
Again, on our deathbeds it is the people we have loved who will be foremost on our minds – NOT the hours spent at the office going out of our way to impress and please people who probably wouldn’t bother giving us the time of day in normal circumstances! We all have daily stresses and worries – but try to remember the bigger picture, always. Remember WHY you are going through the daily stresses; remember WHO you are going through it all for. Let the kids make a mess every now and then. Make messes with them! Be grateful for all that you have – whatever you have. Don’t lose precious time, energy or sleep worrying about the things that at the end of the day (or at the end of your life) mean zilch.
Do you have a story about life regret? I'd love to hear it! Tell me in the comments.
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