Enjoying a reflective walk in the forest with a client yesterday, I noticed that several times he used the phrase If only.
Today as I was sitting at my computer, and as a result of a recent email, I checked a quote for a stock I once had invested in. When I sold it, I made a profit. It eventually went down to 50 cents, but today it was trading $5.
I immediately found myself thinking, If only I had kept that stock. If only I had bought more shares when it was at 50 cents.
If only… If only.
What are some of your If onlys?
- If only I would have married…
- If only I would have dated…
- If only I would have studied…
- If only I would have chosen…
- If only I had… I could have had…
Where does this type of thinking lead you?
Returning to the Past
Probably back into the past. It reminds you of choices you could have made and failures that resulted from not having made that set of choices. Perhaps it leaves you feeling frustrated or depressed, because you’re not nearly as far along as you’d like to be.
How well does this type of thinking serve you? How well does it help you get closer to achieving your goals and dreams?
As you take a moment to reflect, I am sure you realize that being frustrated with the If only‘s and What ifs of your past doesn’t serve you in a positive way. Living with past disappointments holds you back from achieving successes in the future.
So what can you do if struck by an If only?
I’m not suggesting that you pretend you’re a lion and roar away, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that released some endorphins, made you smile and increased your overall feeling of well being.
Reflect – Take your self back to the situation. Try to understand what thoughts and feelings were at play when you made your choices.
Options – If a similar situation were to present itself again, what choices might you make? What thoughts and emotions might you draw upon?
Action – Once you decide the options that would work best, what will be your action plan when a similar situation would present itself in the future.
Reflect Forward – Imagine a time in the future when this situation presents itself again. See yourself taking Action on the Options you have chosen. Spend the time to savor the feelings that arise from this forward reflective process.
By going through this type of process, you free yourself from the negative life impact of living in the past and instead harness your life learning to drive yourself forward to future successes.