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Don’t beat yourself up with what-ifs

From motivational speaker Loretta LaRoche in my local paper:

It’s all well and good to visit the past if it serves as a way to learn valuable lessons that make life more meaningful. Unfortunately, most people act as if they are prisoners of their pasts. Albert Ellis, a renowned expert in the field of cognitive behavioral therapy, coined a phrase I absolutely love. He calls getting stuck in what-ifs – â€œshould-ing on yourself.”

I should have gotten a different job. I should have married someone else. I should exercise more, eat better, and on and on. If you can relax and stop “should-ing on yourself,” you’re going to enjoy life much more.

Here are some steps to help you live more in the here and now:

– Whenever you get caught up in thinking about what you should have done, stop and think about what a waste of energy that is. You can’t go back and redo it, because that period of time has passed. As long as you’re still breathing, there’s a possibility that you can do it now. However, if you have no intention to follow through, give it up and move on.

– Buy yourself a whip and keep it handy. Every time you start to drown yourself or others in “should,” grab the whip and give yourself a good beating. You’re already self-flagellating, so why not literally do it.

– Keep a “should” journal. You’ll probably be shocked to discover how many times a day “shoulda, coulda, woulda” comes out of your mouth.

– There are certain things that have to be done in life. Do them to the best of your ability and then forget about them.

– Don’t allow “should-ing” to go on at home or at work. Ask people to express themselves in better ways. “Should-ing” is filled with judging and finding fault. As a result, our surroundings become a courtroom filled with prosecutors and attorneys. Life is too precious to waste on what might have been. Get over it, get on with it, and live “now.”

What she said. - MM

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