To regret the experience is to regret the lesson – because the lesson is inextricably contained in the experience. Too often when changes occur and our circumstances are not as we planned, we tend to focus on what we lost, what we’ve missed, what’s gone wrong, who is to blame, and “why me.” We are not accepting the reality of our changed circumstance or the opportunity those changed circumstances present. We ignore the gift of change and delay our progress.
A certain amount of “Dang, I just shouldn’t have done that,” is natural; and accepting the fact that you did it – or failed to do it – is healthy. But spending too much time in regret denies us the opportunity of getting the most out of our experience – devastating though the experience may seem. By accepting the reality of my experience and the opportunity to gain what I can from both the experience and the result, I gain the blessing of focusing on new opportunity and getting on with my life.
In his book, “The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer,” Art Berg wrote, “Life changes. It is the nature of life to do so. For those in this life who choose not to change, life will change for you. And it is always more painful that way.” Life has changed for my family and me. However uncomfortable that change may be, it is up to me to decide how to respond.
I initially reacted to my accident – and especially to the resulting difficult circumstances – first with blame, then with regret.
What should my response be now? How about asking questions? Then ask better questions. Doesn’t asking better questions bring better answers? I need to stop asking why this happened to me. It happened, because I was in a hurry. I failed to put hydraulic fluid into the reservoir. The hydraulics failed and a one-ton bale of hay landed on me and broke my neck. I need to ask the larger question. Did this happen for a purpose – or can I create a purpose for what has happened?
“That was then; this is now” isn’t just some trite statement tossed flippantly about to avoid dealing with something. It is an important phrase. What has happened has happened. Why it happened is good for our learning and development, but not worth two cents if we just use it to beat ourselves up. Instead of “why,” ask “how” or “what.” How did it happen? What will happen now? How do I deal with it? How will I turn the circumstances of the accident, even my loss of mobility, to an advantage? What will I do to be more productive and successful?
You’ve heard it said that, “necessity is the mother of invention.” It is also true that deprivation is the father of innovation. It was obvious that in order to survive and succeed, I needed to innovate. What can I do differently? What can I do today to get done what I need to get done tomorrow, when I can’t do it the way I did it yesterday?
I do not mean, what can I do differently just to avoid future mistakes. I mean, what can I do to take advantage of new circumstances brought on by my mistakes – or the mistakes of others? Isn’t it true that when circumstances prevent us from doing something the way we have always done it, we are forced to innovate? Isn’t it also true that the new way of doing things is often better?
Life is not determined by
what happens to me,
but by how I respond to what happens.
It is not about what life brings to me;
but what I bring to life.