Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Best Advice I've Ever Received

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?
  

13 comments:

  1. I'm not going to say this right but hopefully the meaning will come through:

    The worst thing someone can do to you is make you hate them. You cannot hold that feeling inside yourself and not be negatively affected by it.

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    1. LuAnn, I totally understand what you are saying. Anger can eat a person from the inside out!!

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  2. I've been trying to treat myself more compassionately. I've been told no less than four times in the last two weeks that I'm too hard on myself. It makes sense that treating ourselves more compassionately allows us to be more compassionate toward others. I try to reframe past hurts and disappointments in the way you mentioned. I still fight that part of me that stands in her righteous anger about a lot of it. Then I have to think: you're choosing being "right" over being happy, Mary. Which would you *really* rather be? It's not been easy, and it's something I struggle with every day. But I'm better than I was. I suppose that's all any of us can ask of ourselves. I won't be perfect, but can I do a little bit better than I did yesterday?

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    1. Absolutely!! I have to check myself on this EVERYDAY!! It's always better to be kind than right...even with ourselves. :)

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    2. P.S. I'm an AWFUL friend--I have your letter, just need to pop it in the mail! xoxoxoo

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  3. This post gave me chills. Great stuff, full of reminders I really needed tonight. Regret is a waste of time, and the demonic baby who pukes acid are the highlights for me. Thanks for posting.

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    1. Demonic puking babies...we've all got 'em...;)

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  4. I know that you're right and that we should just learn to forgive ourselves and others, but that is something that takes work. If I would have read this when I was fifteen, I would have said that bullies needed a taste of their own medicine. Now I say that they need to be forced into getting help since they clearly have problems that make them bullies to begin with. Not perfect, but at least I'm not going all Mean Girls and thinking a moving bus will solve the problem anymore haha.

    I've gotten some really amazing advice including, "We're never given more than we can handle, even if it seems that way at the time". But my favorite is probably a quote from Harry Potter. "Happiness can be found in the darkest of places, if one only remembers to turn on the light."

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    1. Harry/Dumbledore gives the best advice...:)

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  5. Without a doubt the best advice I every got was from my Mum when I told her I was thinking of going back to University. She said "Kellie, the time is going to pass either way, would you rather have a degree at the end of it or not?" Now whenever I have to decide if I should commit to something long term, I just remind myself that the time's going to pass anyway, the real question is whether I want it or not.

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    1. That's so true. It takes a little summoning of courage to make the leap too. :)

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  6. I'd say this is probably the best advice I've ever received. I've always been told to live without regrets, and when I was younger it bewildered me, because we always have regrets. But by making the right decisions, we're so much less likely to regret them. Great advice :)

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