I’m endlessly fascinated by different ways people find to beat themselves up and make themselves feel bad.
In this video I’ll share a very common one with you.
If you prefer to read, rather than to watch, you’ll find a transcription below. This is an automatically generated transcript so please excuse any errors.
I had a conversation recently with a lady about how her life had been 40 years ago.
She talked about things that she’d done. She talked about things that she hadn’t done. And she talked about decisions that she’d made along the way. She was very focused on how her life would be so different if she had done things differently, and if she’d made different decisions.
The reason we were having this conversation was because she was living a life of regret, which had turned into a low level depression. Now, don’t let the words low level for you. Low Level depression over a long period of time, can actually be more damaging than feeling really bad for a short period of time. And it’s really sad when people live like that, because life has got so much more to offer.
What this lady was really doing, was thinking about her actions as an 18 year old woman. But she was thinking about them through the lens of somebody who’s now almost 60. And of course, at 60, she’s got so much more wisdom, she’s got so much more life experience, and of course, she’s gotten a benefit of hindsight.
What she was doing was, every time she thought back to that period of life, she was chastising that 18 year old version of herself, she was beating herself up, and it’s not helpful. We’re all doing the best that we know how to at the time, and beating your younger self up leaves emotional scars, in the same way that hitting yourself with a physical stick would leave physical scars.
A lot of people use this same pattern for beating themselves up. And when they do, they’re missing a very simple equation. If you take what you did, then, and you take what you would do now, then the gap between them is what you’ve learned. And there are two very simple questions that go along with that. What did I learn? And how can I use that to enrich my life right now? One strategy builds regret and leads to leads to feelings of depression, the other leads to build in wisdom, which helps you to lead a better life right now.
We all have things that we do differently given the opportunity. But don’t beat up your younger self for the mistakes that you made when you had less experience of life. Why not instead, thank your younger self for the valuable lessons that he or she has taught you along the way.