Yes, yes, I'm still in September's blog challenge--although you wouldn't know it from the few posts I've written this month. Most of my blogging, as of late, is happening in my head, which makes it difficult for you to read.
Today's blog challenge prompt is, "What is the best advice you've ever received?"
The best advice I've ever received was from my friend, Jackie Gibson. Her daughter is one of my near and dears. Clover and I went to college together, but didn't room together our first year. It was one of my big regrets. I was standing in Jackie's kitchen one night, lamenting that, "I really wished Clover and I had been roommates our first year." Jackie replied with, "If you two had been roommates, you wouldn't be standing in my kitchen now (20 years later). Regret is a waste of time. Life is too short for regret."
Life is too short for regret.
All the mistakes I've made are past and they've shaped my life as it is today, for good or ill. I can either dwell in my regrets, or I can bow deeply to the lessons that my mistakes have taught me and develop compassion for myself (and then by extension) to others. I feel that when we are most compassionate and merciful with ourselves, that that compassion overflows into everything else that we do. It behooves us choose interpretations of the past that empower us instead of overwhelm us in hopelessness.
Before you ask, "What do you mean by choosing interpretations of the past?" Let me tell ya: We all choose interpretations of the past ALL the time. Remember that son-of-a-gun who cut you off in traffic? The boss who wronged you? That time you did the dumbest thing ever?? That mean girl in high school? Yep, me too. We've each chosen the "stories" that fit our version of events with those who we come into contact with. The trick is choosing interpretations of situations that, at first, seem to dis empower us, and surround them in compassion, so that they ultimately empower us instead.
Let me show you what I mean: Remember that mean girl?
Interpretation 1: "SHE IS SUCH A WITCH. I hate her, I mean, I can't believe she called me that name, and stole my boyfriend. I hate her! I hope she gets spat on by a demonic baby who pukes acid."
Interpretation 2: "Wow. Those words that she called me really hurt. I feel really bad. She must have some self hatred of her own to call someone else something so mean. I still feel really awful, but I don't think it was personal. I can protect myself from her meanness by steering clear of her in the future, and if I choose, perhaps (sometime down the road) extend her some kindness because it appears she may need some."
Here's another example:
Remember that time you got angry/drunk/made a stupid choice?
Interpretation 1: "I am SO stupid. I can't BELIEVE I did that. I am such an IDIOT. Why am I even alive? I can't believe someone so stupid is allowed to walk around. I feel so much shame."
Interpretation 2: "Whoa. That was dumb. What was I thinking? Well, clearly that wasn't the best choice I could have made, but there it is. But it was a bad choice, I'm not a bad person. I'm just a person who made a mistake and I can begin again."
By choosing your own interpretations about choices you've made or things that have happened to you, you get to walk the path of compassion instead of anger. Anger is easy, but compassion liberating. By letting go of regrets and exercising compassion with our dear, sweet selves, we honor that beautiful spirit that makes us who we are.
And the truth is, we all are worthy of compassion.
So live without regret and choose well.
What's the best advice you've ever received?