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There Are No Do-Overs…But There Are Second Chances

There Are No Do-Overs…But There Are Second Chances


    What’s done is done.

    We can’t turn back the clock of time. Good or bad, right or wrong, it is done. It’s over!

    • Once the ingredients are mixed, we can not separate them apart.
    • Once a word goes from our mouth, we can not take it back.
    • Once we do an action, we can not choose another one in its place.
    • Once wood is reduced to sawdust, you can’t make it back into a board
    • Once Humpty Dumpty fell, all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again
    • Once today arrives, it becomes too late to live in yesterday

    Despite the fact that no one can not refute the obvious statements above, it is not uncommon for many of us still finding ourselves reworking yesterday.  As a psychotherapist, I am struck by how many of my clients can not seem to leave the land of “if onlys” and “woulda coulda shouldas.”  

    For those clients, yesterday prevents them from living fully in today as guilt, regret and hindsight makes them so much wiser. They cannot forgive themselves for not “knowing better” at the time.

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    If only we knew everything when we were four!

    The good news is that there is an alternative to the emotional paralysis of, “I should have known better-itis.”  Instead of wishing you had known better and kicking yourself that you didn’t, how about giving yourself a second chance?

    Give Yourself a “Second Chance Checklist”

    1. Turn unproductive regrets into productive regrets.  

    Regrets are important in our life to help us self-correct.  The key is to recover from and build on the sharp sting of regrets to look for the lessons learned and take comfort in the fact that these lessons make us wiser.

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    2. Take comfort in the fact that regrets help us develop empathy for others.

    How would we ever develop real empathy if we never made a mistake or a wrong turn? It is regrets that keep us in check from being judgmental and arrogant. Thus, we become better people who, in turn, have more compassion and empathy for others. Empathy is considered to be one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence.

    3. The more wrong turns you made in retrospect, you increase the odds that your future choices will be more informed.

    With so many lessons from mistakes or regrets, you will be in better shape moving forward. It can actually make it easier for us to be happier by living in today instead of yesterday.

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    4. Ask yourself – Did I do the best I could at the time?  Undoubtedly, the answer will be “yes!” 

    In my 35 years as a psychotherapist, I have never heard otherwise.  I have never met anyone who tried to be toxic or dysfunctional. People generally try their best, even if their best is not objectively healthy. Unhealthy people make unhealthy decisions and behave in an unhealthy way. People do not intentionally make self- defeating decisions. So consider it a noble effort to try your best, even if your best felt short and was misguided.

    5. Moving from regrets is a ripe opportunity to work on the ability to forgive.  

    A lack of forgiveness for oneself or others is one of the most common reasons for depression, anxiety and interpersonal conflict. Thankfully, regrets give you the opportunity  self-correct, and to develop the ability to forgive – it brings them right to the surface to work on. Strive to be thankful for this golden opportunity to release yourself of bitterness and negativity for good!

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    6. Use the broken pieces of unrealized dreams and disappointments as stepping stones towards a better future. 

    If you see shattered pieces of your life’s dreams as stepping stones or as parts of a beautiful life mosaic, you can appreciate those broken remnants. All your disappointments, no matter  how small or how large,  can be part of something so beautiful that it can be hard to imagine and can pave the way for building a better tomorrow!

    Conclusion

    You cannot change what happened to you, but you can change what you do with what happened to you.

    So what are you waiting for? Give yourself a second chance. You deserve it!

    What can you do to give yourself a second chance today? Let me know in the comments below.

    (Photo credit: Second Chance Avenue via Shutterstock)

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    Judy Belmont

    Mental health author, motivational speaker and psychotherapist

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

    In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

    Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut only to get back into another one.

    How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

    • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
    • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
    • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
    • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
    • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
    • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

    When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnancy in life, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help.

    Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

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    1. Realize You’re Not Alone

    Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths.

    Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

    2. Find What Inspires You

    Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation.

    What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

    On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem.

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    If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

    3. Give Yourself a Break

    When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

    Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave.

    Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future.

    These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

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    4. Shake up Your Routines

    Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

    Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’re 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

    When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

    5. Start with a Small Step

    Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

    Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward.

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    Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years.

    On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

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    Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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