We all have them, those errant thoughts, the what ifs? Not the what ifs for events that were out of our control, dictated by destiny or something else, but those what ifs that we ourselves made decisions about: What if I'd taken that job? What if I'd taken the plunge and kissed him? (You know the guy who should have been but never was). What if I'd taken that job? What if I'd turned left not right? What if?
The what ifs fuel the best of our imagination and the worst.They can provide us with hours of entertainment, they allow our imagination to run riot with full blown fantasy and speculation, they are at their core the stuff of dreams.
The problem though is when those what if's become the stuff of regret. When those innocent what ifs become something more benign, when those innocent what ifs become the dedicated focus of our attention and begin to impinge on our reality and when, even worse, they become an alternate universe. A fake, but better reality.
When what ifs become the stuff of regret, their dream like perfection beckons with addictive anticipation and we answer all too keenly.Those errant what ifs are errant no more, we constantly relive them, embellishing them with better, greater thoughts, with perfect pages and magnificent chapters; forever creating an alternate reality with an happily ever after that we are wholly convinced betters our own.
When we begin living in the land of what ifs it is all too easy to forget the reality of the past and the value of the present. We forget that much of the choice in our what ifs has been our own. We chose not to go out with HIM for a reason, we chose not to go for that job, or move to that town for a reason. Reasons erased by the tinted glasses of time. Great, valid reasons that we considered thoroughly and thoughtfully at the time, reasons that helped us make our final choices. Those choices might not have been easy or obvious but I'm certain that the choices that truly mattered were made by our consciences and influenced by the things that we held dear to us then. We should therefore have faith in our past selves and the choices we made, we should value the paths we have taken because we as 'I' has always acted in our own best interests.
Furthermore; in living in the dream what ifs of the past we deny ourselves our present, (and perhaps sometimes that's the point?). We all know that life can be tough, it can be monotonous, it can seem pointless, futile, and those dreams of something different can be just the thing we need to perk us up and keep us going, but we should remember that those alternate choices would have lead to alternate realities. (The old, can't change time, sci fi paradox), and would you really want to change everything that is part of your life? I know I wouldn't. Sure there are things in our lives that we are dissatisfied with, that we wish were different, but there comes a point where you either have to accept those things or take positive steps to change them. In escaping into the land of what ifs we become blinded by what may have been and fail to see the possibilities in our real life. In addition we become so wrapped up in regret that we too often fail to see the value, the good in our life. It's not all bad, really, is it?
So here we are in the present, in reality, do you trust in yourself, (as you always have in the past), to make considered choices in your own best interests?
Or do you forever live in what ifs? Belittling your past selves choices and living in regret?
I'll chose the present, no regret for past choices made but with a bit of fun dreaming of alternative realities thrown in, what about you?
Image: 3d render of wooden mirror on black background. www.123rf.com [accessed 11/11/2013, 17.12]
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