Hindsight can be a tricky temptress, luring you in and giving you the idea that you could’ve done things differently or better, if only… The siren song is often the sweet lullaby of “This could’ve saved you or somebody else from so much pain.” With this one simple trick, you could just poof away a bunch of pain and suffering. If only you hadn’t zigged when you should’ve zagged! But it’s a lie. Always. Because, quite simply, YOU CANNOT CHANGE THE PAST.
The vast majority of our insight comes to us via hindsight. We best understand things when they’re firmly in the rearview mirror. We generally have FAR more information about a situation after it has occurred than we did at the time when we were first processing it. And quite often, a moment that later holds great significance to us appears routine or ordinary as it’s being experienced initially. But only later is that significance revealed.
I’ve come to trust that in any given moment, I am doing the best I can with all the information I have available to me at the time. And so are you. So is everybody on the planet. We’re a very judgmental society, so most of us balk at the idea of “best” and say things like “Well, clearly I wasn’t doing my best when I committed X blunder.” Oh, but you were. There are so many factors involved that we tend to overlook the things that compromise our ability to make decisions and so forth. Maybe the day you did that thing that makes you cringe when you think about it you had barely gotten any sleep for several days in a row and were running on fumes. Maybe you hadn’t been eating well and your body and brain didn’t have the fuel needed to move you around and think clearly. Maybe somebody had been pushing your buttons like they were trying to win at a video game they’d never played before, mashing away at the buttons with reckless abandon, just trying to make something happen.
We forget all the things that led up to the cringey thing, but boy do we ever remember the thing itself. That’s usually emblazoned in our memory in vivid technicolor and available for instant and rapid playback. In my work, I talk a lot about self-acceptance, forgiveness, kindness and compassion, which are all a part of real self-love. To get to that self-acceptance and self-love, we don’t need to take into consideration all those factors (though that can be very helpful sometimes), but rather trust that we were doing our best at the time under the circumstances and with the information available to us.
If I trust that in the past, I did the best I could at the time, then it’s a lot easier for me to trust that I’m doing my best in each moment as it arrives. Right now.* And if I trust that, there’s no need for cringing, because I’m doing my best, and future me knows that. So does present me, who is creating my future moment by moment. The future isn’t plans and projections. It’s a collection of moments that lead up to a moment. Another point in time. I want to create those moments with gratitude and abundance, not worries and fear. I want my collection of moments to be filled with more joy and laughter than sorrow and regret. And so I live that way.
This is far more of a practice than a realization. In every moment, I’m either consciously aware that I’m doing my best with what I’ve got, or I find a way to remind myself of that fact, or I completely lose sight of it for awhile and feel some strong and maybe also unpleasant feelings. And whatever I’m feeling is OK.
I wrote that over a month ago and got distracted after I wrote that last sentence. I wanted to expand on that thread, but every time I’ve come back to it, I can’t seem to pick it up again. My websites were all down for awhile due to hosting issues that have now been resolved. Would’ve just posted it immediately if I’d known… Which is pretty much the point of the post. Hindsight, right? I did the best I could with the info available to me at the time. And so did you. Really.