September 15, 2012

Freeing yourself up from regrets

Are there events in your past for which you feel a sense of regret? defines regret as 'a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.' I would define tweak this definition slightly, to be more about a sense of unhappiness with an event, action or experience in the past. The emotion is attached to our own role in it.  

Regrets are often identifiable by the language you use to describe them.  Words such as 'I wish I had...', 'I should have...' are indicators of regret.

It is useful to take a look at our emotions around something when those phrases crop up and come to peace with however we behaved or whatever we did in that circumstance.  If one doesn't come to peace with past actions, the collection of regrets can accumulate.  No one would describe the feeling of regret as a positive emotion; it leaves you feeling sad and powerless.

What if you were kind to yourself?  Put yourself in the shoes of that past you, and give yourself a break.  Undoubtedly, you did the best you could with what you had or what you knew at the time.  Or, you made an honest mistake, not realizing the impact of your actions.  You have influence over your attitude towards that past event, and you can reframe it so you are at peace with the outcome.

Going through a process of forgiving yourself, and giving that past you a heartfelt hug, can free you up immensely.  It can give you courage to continue to try again and again, without fear of failure. We all do things that in hindsight we wish we had done differently.  It is part of being human.  Being forgiving is a gift that you likely offer to others, so why not to yourself?

September 5, 2012

how do you tell your stories?

Our lives are full of events, every day.   People we see, news we hear, things we experience.  Sometimes it might seem that the day has been uneventful, with nothing to tell.  Most days, though, contain a couple of events that we turn into stories to share with friends and family.

How do you decide which events to share with others?  What language do you use to describe those events?

It is interesting to pay attention how you typically frame your stories.  It is possible to get a lot of mileage from talking about how challenging a co-worker was, or about how terrible a driver was on a commute to work.  However, what is the impact of those stories on your listener?  Think about your own experience.

When people share positive stories with us, we usually leave the conversation uplifted, inspired.  The opposite is usually true of negative stories, although we might not fully be aware of the impact.  We might just feel a little more tired or disillusioned than usual, without attributing it to the conversations we have had.

If your listener is someone important to you, you likely prefer to leave them more uplifted and positive after talking to you than before.  What would it be like if you shifted your lens and told your story from another perspective?  If at the end of the day, instead of a story complaining about your cranky coworker, you had a story of how you helped them to finish an overdue project, relieving their burden and stress?