I heard the phrase “Stop Pressing Rewind” in a song as I was running this morning. It got me thinking how often we do exactly that in our lives. We press rewind. We ruminate about the past and decisions we made, wondering what might have been if we’d done things differently.
Shoulda Woulda Coulda.
The problem with rehashing the past is it often turns into regret. We can’t go back and change what happened or how we chose to deal with the situation at the time. So what good does it do to dig up those bad feelings and relive them? It only serves to create unhappiness over something that is clearly not happening now.
Reminiscing vs. Ruminating.
Reminiscing is another story. I love to listen to the Classic Rewind XM radio channel in my car. When I hear an old song it takes me back. It’s fun to remember old times. Even songs that invoke painful memories provide contrast to where I am now. They also remind me of all I have to be grateful for.
Ruminating on the other hand isn’t about fond memories or perspective. Ruminating typically involves overthinking and analyzing the past. And since we don’t get do-overs, that only causes frustration and unhappiness.
When Bad Things Happen.
This morning, a good friend of mine told me her dog was attacked last night at a community event. She was visibly upset and angry about the incident, and told me she wouldn’t be taking her dogs out to public places like that anymore. What she didn’t say during our entire conversation was that she wished she hadn’t taken her dogs to the event. She only said she wouldn’t do it again in the future.
Learning and Moving On.
That’s the perfect way to handle bad situations. Learn from them. Make changes as a result of them. But don’t beat yourself up about them. It’s OK to feel bad about what happened, but don’t regret your choices that led to the event. You had no idea how things were going to turn out.
The Rearview Mirror.
There’s really only one useful place for rearview mirrors in our life. And that’s for recollecting memories. Memories are precious. They’re all we have of times gone by. They’re meant to be cherished, not changed. Whether they’re happy or sad, they’re simply markers along this journey we call life.