What if you made a different decision about something a few years back, or many years back? What would be different in your life? Would that decision have changed the course of your life so that you were happier?
These questions were the basis of the book, The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. The book focuses on a main character who is unhappy in her life, regrets many things and ultimately attempts suicide. During that in-between life and death time, she visits the library that has a book for every life that she could have had if she had made different decisions. Had she gone to college for what she really wanted, her life would have been different. Had she said yes to coffee with a casual acquaintance and gotten to know him her life could have been different. Had she not quit the band that she was in her life could have been different. You get the idea. All through the time you are in the library, there is one book that you must read, the Book of Regrets. As you try on each life, you see that perhaps the regret was not really a regret and they begin to disappear.
The real focus of this book is to have a different perspective versus beating yourself up for all that is happening. Instead of wallowing in the depths of despair and being the victim, the author shows you through the experiences of our heroine that your mindset and perspective helps you to move through your life differently. Although a decision can change the course of your life, there is good that comes out of all of it, and our perspective on it allows us to either see it or not.
At first, we can look at our life and get caught up in those regrets. If only I had (fill in the blank). If only I had not (fill in the blank). In reality all of these decisions moved us to where we are and are part of the plan and journey for this life. Changing the perspective allows us to see the good, the possible, the next best step. I spent many years really focused on the things I did or did not do that could have changed the course of my life. One that stands out is a man, who I met when I was 14 and we stayed quite close for many years. When I was 20, he came to visit New York City from Canada, where he lived. We spent a day or two together and during that time he asked me if I would be willing to move to Toronto to finish college and see if he and I could have a future together. Interestingly, he never thought about moving the USA, only me going there. I chose not to go as much as I adored him. I couldn’t see myself moving away from my family and I thought I was truly in love with my then boyfriend and that we would marry. I wasn’t sure about my Canadian friend and didn’t want to risk losing one love only to find that the second wasn’t right. When my relationship with said boyfriend(then husband) blew up many years later I wondered and regretted that decision. If only I could have changed that, I thought. In reality, who knows what would have happened. The end of my marriage ended up bringing great growth into my life both personally and professionally. I took risks professionally that I would not have taken had I still been in that marriage, risks that catapulted my career. Risks that gave me opportunity for travel, for meeting all kinds of people and giving me financial security to retire at 56. The end of that marriage put me on a path of growth and expansion that probably would not have happened had I stayed with him. He was not one to learn and grow.
Every regret has a silver lining of what would not have happened had we made a different decision. Instead of focusing on what could have been it may be better to focus on the moment as it is and what the next best step is for us. Allowing our inner wisdom to guide us, not the expectations of others. Allowing for guidance from the universe (or God if that feels better for you) steers us. To not get caught up in the “what ifs.”
Approaching life from a place of what can be instead of what if is liberating to me and a change from my years of beating myself up for what I didn’t do; of what I wasn’t. Wasted time focused on the “shoulds” of life kept me in very low energy, and too caught up in what other people thought and expected from me. “Should” is no longer a big part of my vocabulary, minimizing my regrets and expanding on my blessings and growth.
Reframing regrets to a new perspective and seeing life as is versus what could have been and then moving forward from there is growth for me.
Are there regrets in your book you can reframe and change the perspective on?