This was first published on ksl.com
Our regrets can haunt our present and cause us to miss opportunities to show up today. We also fear that bad decisions mean we weren't good enough, and we grieve the lost opportunities down the roads we didn't take.
But, we can't change the past. Worrying and stressing over past mistakes just robs today of its potential joy.
It is interesting to note that a recent study published in the journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that people experience more regret over the things they didn't do than the things they did. Is that true for you? Do you regret the chances, trips and opportunities you didn't take or try?
Either way, every second you spend agonizing over the past, you are missing opportunities to be present, connect with people around you, or do things that matter now. If you spend time in regret on a regular basis, here are some suggestions for ways to let go of the past.
Make sure you have experienced the grief and painWhen you lose opportunities or make mistakes it is natural to feel some regret and grieve for the loss. You must allow yourself to feel these emotions and sit with them. They are part of the human experience, and it is healthy to allow yourself some time to feel disappointed, but you don't want to live there.
You might give yourself a limited time — like one week or one hour — to fully feel the pain and regret and then be done with it. Decide that it doesn't serve you in any way to live there, so you are going to chose to be present and make good choices today.
Stop asking 'what if' questions
You cannot change the past, so spending time imagining how things could have been if you had made different choices doesn't serve you at all. Instead, ask yourself "What will happen if I keep regretting this decision for the rest of my life? What is regret giving me? What is regret going to create in my life? What would life look like if I let regret go?"
The best way to forgive yourself for past mistakes is to choose the belief that human value is unchangeable, infinite and equal: all humans have the same value. This means your mistakes were interesting lessons that taught you things, but they don't mean anything about who you are and they don't change your value.
If you choose to see your past choices as the perfect classroom for you and believe they served you in some way, it is easier to forgive yourself. Everyone makes some mistakes and you are not worse or less than because of yours. They are nothing but lesson experiences.
Spend some time writing out all your regrets and disappointments. Make a list of all the times life didn't go well for you, you lost or were mistreated. Then make a list of all the things that went your way. Write all your wins, good-luck experiences, and positive turns of events. Make sure you write down all your blessings and the positives in your life. Understand that the nature of this journey is that life is filled with both good and bad experiences and they all are meant to teach you things.
See life as a perfect classroom
Whichever road you took, it taught you things your soul needed to learn. That's how the universe works. You never miss the perfect classroom experiences for you because the universe knows what it is doing.
The amazing Eckhart Tolle said, "Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness." If you believe this and trust the universe, you will see that it is always conspiring to teach and grow you. Even the losses can be lessons and blessings.
See mistakes as locations on your journey
What is a mistake anyway? Is there such a thing? Maybe all your choices were the perfect classroom choices for you and not mistakes at all. You could choose to see mistakes as locations on your journey, not a reflection of who you are.
I went through a series of bad relationships. Those were life experiences that taught me many things, but they didn't change my value and they didn't define who I am. They were just things I experienced. I have traveled through divorce, being a single parent, experiencing financial troubles, etc. These experiences were interesting parts of my journey, but they aren't about my value.
Do a regret exercise
Make a list of the choices you regret. Then write down 10 positive things that each of those choices has brought into your life. This is an exercise Viktor Frankl, author of "Man's Search for Meaning," recommended to his patients. If you can see the positive impact those wrong choices had on your life, you will feel differently about them. Seeing the lesson will lessen the sting.
Often those choices taught you important things about the kind of person you don't want to be. They made you less judgmental of others. They helped you become who you are today. Thank yourself for making those choices and choosing those beautiful lessons. You were right on track in your perfect classroom journey (or you can choose to see it that way if you want to).
Forgive other people for their mistakes
The way you feel about your own mistakes and the way you judge or criticize others for their mistakes are intricately tied together.
If you are quick to judge others and see their faults as making them unworthy, you will likely also see your own flaws as making you unworthy, too. If you decide to give everyone the infinite, unchanging value I mentioned earlier, you will find that you feel your unchanging value, too.
You love yourself the same way you love others, so a powerful way to feel better about yourself is to forgive others and let them be worthy despite their mistakes, faults or flaws. Make this a daily practice. The more you see them as worthy and love them where they are, the more you will also love yourself.
Life is School
Understand that your life isn't a test where you have to perform well and earn your value. It isn't a contest that compares your performance with others; it is a school where you are here to learn and experience things that will help you become smarter, stronger and more loving.
Stop comparing yourself with others. They are in a different class. You are the only one in your class.
The classroom of life requires you to experience wins and losses. It wants you to get to experience regret, guilt, shame and pain so you can fully understand the human experience. But these experiences don't determine who you are or they don't change your value, and they definitely don't define you. Let the past go. It is over and gone. Be present today and show up with trust and love. Keep your focus on the good you can do in the world today.
You can do this.
This was first published on KSL.COM
SALT LAKE CITY — This week I have been thinking a lot about perception and the way you see every situation in your life.
Perception is defined as the act of being aware, recognizing, discerning or understanding things. But the problem with human perception, according to human behavior expert Beau Lotto, in his book "Deviate," is that our brains were not wired to perceive accurately. They were wired to process the world efficiently, and this means you use the past to make assumptions about the present, so it’s easier and faster to understand things.
Everything you have experienced in your past becomes a filter or lens through which you see everything that happens now. You don’t see the world as it is; you see the world as you are. You are constantly projecting what you think you know from your past experiences onto the present, even though many of those assumptions or beliefs aren’t true.
A common assumption learned in childhood is "It’s safer to stay quiet and not talk about things." This may seem true to you if your trying to communicate in the past led to conflict and made you feel unsafe, but there is a cost when you don’t talk about what bothers you.
If you accept that your perceptions might not be accurate, then you have the power to question them. If you are open to other meanings and beliefs and questioning the way you see each situation, you will have the power to choose meanings or beliefs that serve you better and process your life in a more mature way.
Here are a few of the most common projections that cause misperception and problems in your life:
1. Perception of others comes from projections of yourself
Your perception of other people and who they are comes from you projecting the way you feel about yourself (and your own value) onto them. If you have accepted a belief (created from past experiences) that you might not be good enough, you can’t help but project that belief onto other people and see them as not good enough, too.
The more fears of inadequacy you have, the more you will be prone to judge, condemn, criticize and even reject other people. If you are prone to gossip or fault finding, you might be projecting your own insecurity or self-hate onto another person, causing you to see them as flawed too. Whatever level of flaws and faults you think you possess, you will see others as equally flawed.
2. Perception of yourself comes from projections you see in others
Your perception of yourself and your value comes from projecting how you view other people back onto the way you feel about you.
The previous point was the exact opposite, so you might be thinking: How can these both be true? Well, they are inexplicably tied together because it goes both ways. If you grew up in a family that was often critical of other people and you learned to be judgmental, you will project this judgmental attitude back onto yourself, too. You will be more self-critical and blame yourself when things go wrong. The bottom line is, it is impossible to have good self-esteem if you judge other people as not good enough.
To fix these first two projections: You should choose a new belief (assumption) that all human beings are created equal. The belief that all human beings are created by a divine or higher power — and therefore perfect and guiltless students in the classroom of life with infinite, absolute, unchangeable value — allows you to see everyone as "good enough" all the time. This means it is impossible to be "not good enough," and both you and others have nothing to fear. This will require practice, though, to consistently choose this new belief. But the more you do it, the easier it will get.
3. Perception of what others think comes from projections of yourself
Your perception of what other people think about you comes from you projecting the way you feel about yourself (and your own value) onto them. If you have accepted a belief that you might not be good enough, you will assume other people think you aren’t good enough, too. You might add this meaning to whatever they do or say and always think they are criticizing or judging you.
To fix this: Practice choosing to believe that what other people think of you is none of your business and completely irrelevant. Also, remember that what you think they think of you is usually wrong. They are actually so busy worrying about themselves, they don’t think about you very much at all. Finally, they don’t know you and what’s in your heart. If they judge or criticize you, remember they are only projecting how they feel about themselves onto you, and that isn’t about you at all.
4. Perception of God can come from how you see your parents
Your perception of God might come from the way you saw and experienced your actual parents. If you felt safe and unconditionally loved by your mom and dad, you are more likely to see God as having a similar love for you. But if you felt unsafe or struggled to earn your parent’s approval, or were often punished or even abused, you might see God as scary and very hard to please.
Take a minute and reflect on how you felt about your actual parents. Is there any chance you could have projected those feelings onto God and might be seeing him the same way? Because we cannot actually meet God and have firsthand knowledge of who he is, everything we believe about him will always be just belief (not fact). If your actual parents were selfish, emotional or out of balance, you might have a really skewed perception of God, and this can create a lot of fear of loss in your life.
To fix this: Choose a belief about God and that helps you more than it hurts you. You might choose to believe he is more loving and forgiving than angry and vengeful. Choose to see him as the essence of perfect love and trust that you are safe in his hands all the time. If you don’t consciously choose a belief and perception about God, you will subconsciously choose one based in fear. Choose a belief that serves you and makes you feel more loved.
5. Perception of safety can come from your childhood experiences
Your perception of life and your safety is a projection from whatever you saw, experienced or heard as a small child. Inevitably you saw or experienced some bad things that probably created the assumption that you are not safe in this world. You probably perceive the world to be a scary, unsafe place where you have to be vigilant about protecting yourself from other people who could take from you. This might make you quick to be offended or to feel taken from, and this could create a lot of conflict in your relationships.
To fix this: You have to choose a belief that life is safe all the time. Choose to trust God (or a higher power) that there is order in the universe and every experience is here for your good and is the perfect classroom for you at this time. Choose to believe that nothing exists God did not create, therefore there is nothing that isn’t perfect and here to serve you. Choosing these beliefs makes life look safer, and you will get offended and bothered less often.
Understand that everything you see and feel comes from your projecting your past onto it. This can help you to question your beliefs and give you the power to reframe the present in a more helpful way.
If you find yourself often unbalanced, upset or stressed out by life, this may be something you want to hire a coach or counselor to help you with. Coaching to change your subconscious beliefs is the fastest way to change your behavior and the way you feel about your life.
You can do this.
This was first published on ksl.com
I went through a horrible divorce many years ago and it made me feel unwanted and unloved. I can’t seem to get past those feelings, and because of that I am not dating or trying to meet anyone. I think it’s a combination of being afraid, thinking I am not good enough, and being afraid of rejection. Is there anything I can do to get past those fears and move on?
There are some things you can do that would help you move forward and feel more courageous about dating. But before we get to that, I want to explain how our past experiences create beliefs, mental rules or policies that dictate our behavior in the future.
This process started when you were a small child and everything you saw or experienced created ideas and beliefs about who you are and how you fit in the world. But it's possible that many of these conclusions may not have been accurate.
It sounds like the divorce also prompted you to make some new beliefs about your value and relationships. You may have drawn conclusions that the rejection meant you aren’t good enough to deserve love. This isn’t a fact, though; it’s just a belief (or a subconscious policy or rule) you may have applied to the event.
The good news is while you can’t go back and change what happened, you can go back and change what it meant. This is where "time travel" comes in. You have the ability to visualize when you went through that experience and choose a different meaning around it. You can also change the beliefs it created.
To change the meaning of some of your past experiences, find some quiet time when you won't be interrupted and follow these steps:
1. Close your eyes and go back to the situation when you created these assumptions or beliefs about your value or your life. Sit in that place for a while and really feel the feelings that show up. What are the exact conclusions you drew at this time? How did you feel because of these conclusions? After you sit with that for a little while, stop and write the conclusions or beliefs down on paper. What meaning did you apply to the event?
2. Look at those beliefs and write down the ways those beliefs have served you or protected you. You may have held onto them because they served you in some way.
3. Now, think about what these beliefs have cost you. Write down all the damage they have done and how they have negatively affected your life.
4. Ask yourself, are these beliefs worth the cost or would you like to change them?
5. If you think your life would be better if you changed these limiting beliefs, what would you like to believe instead? How would you like to feel about yourself? How would you like to feel about your life?
6. If it would serve you to change these beliefs, try applying new meaning to the event in your past and choose new beliefs to draw from it.
Here's how to do this:
8. Take some time to write down how you are going to choose to feel and process present experiences in light of the new meanings around the past that you have chosen.
You may want to repeat this process a few times, because the more you do it the more you will internalize your new chosen beliefs. According to the neuroscientist, Beau Lotto, in his book Deviate, your brain doesn’t know the difference between fantasy and reality. So, when you use visualization and process events in a more healthy way, you actually get the same benefits you would if you had really had the experience that way.
You may also have more courage to start dating if you choose to trust that your value is the same as everyone else’s, whether someone likes you or not, and trust in the universe that the right person will like you when the time is right.
You can do this.
Coach Kim Giles is a master life coach, speaker, and author of three books. Coach Kim offers help and resources that fit any budget. Learn more at www.claritypointcoaching.com and www.12shapes,com
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.