Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Never Say Or Think “I Should Have…”

Living in the present and being content with who you are is the foundation for a good life. Everything else is extra.

Having said that, however, we all know that most people have not yet made peace with themselves. They judge themselves harshly (creating guilt) for their decisions and actions made in the past, and now seek to find their worth in worldly achievements, fame, and exchangeable relationships. None of it gives them lasting satisfaction. Some succumb to depression and withdrawal from society, and frequently self-medicate through substance abuse. I shouldn’t have done that is the theme that underscores this misery.

Sadly, they are unaware that the reasoning behind that thought is misguided, and even illogical. Here is why:

1)  All decision and actions are based on what we believe to be true, at the time they are

2)  Some psychological studies show that people have a very difficult time remembering      
what it was like when they didn't know what they know now. For example, at some
point in our lives we learned that the world was round and the moon traveled around it, but we don't remember what it was like not knowing that.

3)  So, going back over the past armed with what we know now, it is difficult if not impossible to judge ourselves fairly. What happened then was based on what we knew then, the circumstances then and our feelings and beliefs then.

Therefore, it follows quite logically, that we should not judge from our present circumstances, from our knowledge and the beliefs we hold now, decisions made in another time and place.

That is not to say we can't learn from the painful and unfortunate events in our lives. When presented with similar circumstances now, it would be wise to say, "What could I do differently?” Should is always a judgment of some kind, could opens up possibilities.

If you are someone who carries pain and self-hatred from the past, remember that you truly don't remember the person you are judging now, it's quite impossible. Instead have compassion for his experiences, no doubt he did the best he could with whatever knowledge was available to him then. All you really need to think about is what you could do from now on.

It's all about learning anyway. So try to look at the past with a more gentle eye from now on.


  1. Yes, this is a real serious problem. I certainly have had unrelenting standards that manifest as "I should've tried harder...if I really did give it my 100%, instead of 'only' 95% I wouldn't be suffering with such and such.

    The bad thinking is that because I don't have the life I want I must've made mistakes...and if only I tried harder they wouldn't have occurred.

    Yep, that's a tough one.

    I understand you're not talking about not having moral standards or personal integrity. I SHOULD behave well with others and I SHOULD NOT steal, etc. And if I do have breakdowns I should be accountable for them, etc., so I can get back to being in the present.

  2. Yes Indeed..Brooding over past mistakes will noway make our present any happier..