We’ve all heard it before, we may even have done it ourselves: “It’s all because of x” or “If only I had done x instead…” hindsight has a way of playing with us that is neither constructive nor positive. It can drag us into a mire of regret and essentially confirm a narrative in our mind that reinforces the fixed mindset, rather than allowing us to move on and develop a growth mindset.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I had only applied myself more at school. Would I be working a better job? Would I be making more money? What happened if I had only started jiu-jitsu earlier? Maybe I would be further down the journey already and have achieved more… This is a dangerous state of reflection to be in, and I make a huge effort to logical dismiss this useless and fruitless way of thinking.
Hindsight tends to deal in “what ifs”, but doesn’t grant credit to the things you did successfully. It dwells on what we could have done better, not what we actually did well.
In the wake of the Christchurch Earthquake, I found myself dealing with many students, parents and people who were profoundly affected by the trauma of the event. A lot of the grief, stress and emotional damage caused by the disaster had never been dealt with, even five years after the events, and many people looked back to the disaster as a crucial event that has shaped their current view of the world. Because we don’t often practice good reflection skills, we often leave these narratives unattended in our mind and, if left to fester, become negative affirmations that we allow to dominate our way of thinking. There is no doubt that the earthquake was a traumatic event, I don’t want to try and say it wasn’t at all, but I do feel that many people have not dealt with that constructively in reflection to move on with their lives.
I suppose this is just one example I can think of, but learning to let go of the darkness if the past is crucial if we want to fully embrace the brightness of the future.
Do you find yourself dwelling on things you could have done or thinking about what you could have done differently? Let it go; allow your mind to look forward, not backward.