A very common human expression is “I wish I could go back in time and change something. Then, my life would be different. I wish I could have a second chance”. Let’s explore this a bit, shall we?
We always do the best we can with what we have
Pick an event in your life, which you would give anything to go back to and change. Being unfair to someone close, breaking a leg because you weren’t careful enough, getting caught doing something you shouldn’t have done or anything else you wish hadn’t happened. Think of what this event caused in your life – pain, embarrassment, failure, etc, and make sure you’ve chosen an event you feel very strongly about.
Now, roll back your life to the point in time just before that event. But here’s the catch: you can’t take with you any of the knowledge and skills you’ve accumulated since the event. You must go back to being exactly the same you from before the event took place.
Now, ask yourself this question:
Given a second chance, but being exactly who you were then, with the same fears, same understanding, same beliefs, same knowledge, same mindset, could you really change anything?
If your answer is “yes”, then ask yourself this:
Why didn’t you do it differently the first time?
It’s OK. Take a deep breath, think about it, and the answer will come … you couldn’t, because you didn’t know better, or didn’t have the required skills and missed by a second, or whatever the reason.
If the same you was put in the very same situation exactly, you would get the exact same results as you did the first time. In fact, you could go back there a million times and still get the exact same results.
How frustrating! Or is it?
When we’ve done this little exercise, and when our clients have done it, we’ve found that, strangely enough, this thought provides total liberation from any guilt feelings we may have had. The reason we did stupid, cruel, painful or boring things was that they were the only things we could do at the time. Sure, now we know better, but then, we didn’t!
But why stop at a single event? If this is true for one event, isn’t it true for every event? Isn’t it true for every decision in our life? Isn’t it true for every single second we live? Sure it is.
So does this mean that we never ever make mistakes, because we always do the only thing we can do? Absolutely! We always do the one and only thing we can do, and it’s always what we consider at the time to be the best thing to do (from our point of view).
Conclusion #1: I’m OK
Let’s expand this to other people now.
First, we can start with the people we like, because it’s easiest to forgive them. You’ll quickly agree that the people you like, much like you, always do the best they can, because they are such good people. Even when they make mistakes, it’s simply because they couldn’t do any better. Therefore, they are OK too.
The next step is a bit harder, especially when we think of people who do seriously bad things, like rape or murder, but it’s as inevitable as all the previous steps. No matter how we may judge another person’s actions, the person himself is doing the best he can under the circumstances.
No matter how “bad” the other person is, their genetics, background and experiences have gotten them to do what we consider to be bad, but it was still what they thought best for them.
Conclusion #2: Everyone else is OK
All this is fine and good, but what do we do with it?
Well, accepting yourself (conclusion #1) will help you relax a great deal and increase your self-confidence. It will eliminate guilt, which is a destructive feeling, from your life forever. You will be free to focus on getting the best outcomes without worrying about things too much. This will, in turn, improve the results you see in your life.
Accepting others (conclusion #2) will help your relationships tremendously, because you will no longer judge other people’s actions and words. You will become very helpful to others, being able to support them in whatever they do. You will be forgiving, because you don’t take anyone else’s actions personally.
After all, they are doing the best they can. Forgiveness will help you eliminate anger. This will, in turn, improve the results you see in your life, because people around you will return your kindness and help you too.
If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be that we’re all OK
Jewel said it the best way. Yes, we’re all OK, no matter what. I have chosen to dedicate my life to teaching acceptance. I want to leave you with words of hope.
Everything will be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end
Much love and blessings of happiness and acceptance,