Friday, 13 March 2015

What if?...Making peace with your decisions

Plagued by the past

Plagued by the past by contemplatingbunnies

I've so often wondered what my life would have been like had I made different decisions along the way. I might have been a completely different person because while you fundamentally are who you are, your experiences and the people around you do, to a large extent, shape who you become. I've often heard people say that you become a combination of the five people you spend most of your time with. I think that's true to a certain extent because people you're close with can have a massive impact on you and sometimes you don't even realise it. Every decision you make has an impact on your life in one way or another; sometimes it has only a tiny effect while other times it will affect everyone around you for generations to come, for all eternity. That's huge! It seems like such a massive responsibility to think that your thoughts and actions can impact generations upon generations to come. This is no new concept. I'm sure we've all thought about this at some stage or other; I've just thought about it more lately. I often think about how things have worked out in my life so far, especially when a major life event takes place. Take, for example, some of the choices I've made. If I had chosen to study at a different university or chosen a different hall of residence or different subjects, I wouldn't have met my husband and I wouldn't have our daughter in my tummy right now. Our love would never exist, she would never exist, let alone her children and her children's children and beyond. That's a lot of pressure when it comes to making decisions! So the question is how to cope with this pressure, uncertainty and doubt and how to live with the decisions we make. 

I believe that everything happens as it should. Every decision we make has both good and bad consequences. We do the best we can in any given situation and go with our gut or make the most informed decision we can. We do what we can and what makes sense at that moment in time. We will often look back on our decisions in the future and think that we made the wrong decision and wonder what if? What if I had chosen the other path? But we will never know for sure; there is no way of knowing what outcomes a different decision would have amounted to. The 1998 movie, Sliding Doors, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, illustrates this concept perfectly. If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself a favour and watch it if you can. 

We often torture ourselves with our past thoughts and actions but what's the point? It's futile to live in the past because we're never getting it back. It doesn't come around more than once. The reality is that yes, maybe if you took the other road you would be better off, but there would certainly be challenges along that road as well and you would surely find yourself looking back and wondering what if you took the other road instead. And so it goes on and on. That's why it's pointless to look back on our past decisions with regret. It gets us nowhere, it just makes us sick and makes us doubt our ability to make good decisions in the future. Yes, we can learn from our past mistakes, but that is all. We do what makes sense at the time and hope for the best.

If you think about it, it's actually amazing how the universe works; it's what we call life. Everything is linked; we are all linked. "Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone". - Margaret J. Wheatley. What I take away from these thoughts is that, while agonizing over the past is senseless, taking others and the world around us into consideration when making certain decisions is meaningful. We can't always make better decisions but we can make more thoughtful ones.

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