“I suppose in the end it’s almost too easy to look back and say what you should have done, how you might have changed things.
What’s harder – what’s much, much harder – is to accept what you actually did do.”
We go back over ground we have tread before again and again. We retrace our steps as if we could not only have actually chosen a different path or stopped and smelled the roses or hurried past something a little faster but also if we had … well … things would have been different in the here & now.
It’s kind of natural.
Because it is easy <in a hard way>.
While it is hard, as in … ruefully painful at times, to think about the ‘shoulds’ … it is easy to see the ‘shoulds.’ And we convince ourselves in that going back and revisiting these things we will be better in the future.
In many ways this revisiting of decisions is a version of not really accepting what we did.
Here is a truth. An unfortunate truth but a real one nonetheless.
99% of these things you should have done were done with best intentions, best viewing of the situation at hand and, most likely, in the range of best decisions available.
99% of these things you should have done are most likely viewed through a lens which incorporates the contextual ripples that surrounded it at that time <which are almost impossible to see within any moment> as well as the ripples of time since that moment <which are difficult to envision within any moment>.
99% of these things you should have done only appear to be ‘should have dones’ because you assume the path from that choice & decision would have remained the same as current history.
And that last 99% is 100% wrong.
Each pebble you drop in a pond is slightly different sized, dropped ever so slightly differently and hits the pond ever so slightly in a different way … all of which sends out a different ripple effect than the original.
Suffice it to say that Time & Life is neither linear nor impervious to other actions.
The other thing to remember is that 99% of the time you do not really have to retrace your steps to know what you should have done … whether you realize it or not … in our heads our memory does a pretty fantastic job of taking a picture of moments like that and stores them in your mental photo library.
99% of us see crossroad moments exactly as cross road moments and recognize they have the potential for should haves and store them away. We need not revisit or retrace … we know them subconsciously and reassess them should we cross another similar crossroad moment. You need not examine and tear apart and have angst over the moment viewing it thread by thread in the tapestry of the moment.
Suffice it to say … 99% of everything you will need is already stored away in your pea like brain and will naturally arise 99% of the time it should.
It is hard to accept all of which I have written.
And maybe 99% of us will chafe at it … maybe ridicule it … possibly oppose it … and, yet, will eventually, finally, find it self evident.
“All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Truth, in Life and in decision and choices, is … well … truth. And just as truth is sometimes not self-evident in the moment, as with most things in Life, truth always resides as simply ‘so’ with the things you have done.
This is the ‘truth’ that 99% of the time is the … well … the just ‘so’ aspect:
You do your best.
You make the best decisions you can.
You accept what you did as neither stupid nor smart … but rather the best in that time and place.
That last, my friends, is a simple definition for ‘acceptance.’
And because of what I just said … 99% of the time you should just accept what you actually did and not invest time going back over ‘should haves’ and instead invest that 99% of your time moving forward or making some progress.
That last thought is hard. It is difficult.
Accepting that you have learned that lesson in the moment and do not have to retrace steps to ‘learn’ is difficult.
All I can really say is accepting what you have done, the bad and the good, is actually a lighter burden than carrying along a shitload of ‘should haves.’
Acceptance is a light load and makes you nimbler for the future. And if that isn’t the ultimate argument for acceptance I don’t know what is … because in today’s world having some agility to adapt may be the single most survival skill anyone can have.
I did not research this so the 99% is made up.
But I have 90% confidence that it is within the realm of factual truth — in business as well as in Life.
Remember. I am a cynical optimist.