Hindsight is 20-20: What if you had the power to rewrite history? You do.
I love Robyn’s post on Hindsight and how she thinks of clever comebacks after the tense or hurtful event has passed. I do this too. I think and rethink a situation and phrase and rephrase several responses I could have made, but didn’t. I just sat there mute, often because I was so taken aback that someone would actually say such a thing, or be so rude or insensitive.
The problem with that is once something is said you can’t take it back. You can’t relive a situation; thinking up responses over and over is a bit like self-flagellation. Let it pass and move on. They’re an insensitive twit and you’re not.
I try not to let words flow from my mouth uncensored or unconsidered, but I suspect that I’ve said some things to people, not meaning to be rude, that have rubbed them the wrong way or been hurtful. You don’t always know another person’s sore spots or bruises, and you poke them by accident. Or on purpose if you’re a person who needs to hurt other people to make yourself feel better or smarter or wittier.
Recently there was a Daily Post question asking “If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick?” I’d choose writing them. In truth I blog for myself, for a couple of reasons. But it’s also a great place to vent, and in doing so, think through a situation. I remember a suggestion from a counselor once to write a letter to a person who’s hurt you — get it all out — then tear it up and throw it away. I like that because it’s a metaphor for putting the bad behind you and moving forward. When we dwell on coulda, shoulda, woulda’s we’re living in the past, when it’s better to focus on the future.
For many years, I resented my mother because she wasn’t a particularly good mother — mostly ineffective, and I guess selfish. She took advantage of other people, and never had that sense of independence and self-sufficiency, which made me mad and resentful. These are toxic feelings and I needed to get rid of them with a conscious effort to let them go. She passed away a few years go, and I wish I had felt that sense of loss that is appropriate — but I didn’t. I can’t change my feelings (or lack of them), just as I couldn’t turn my mother into what I wanted her to be. We are powerless over many things and acceptance is often the best way to deal with them. We can only change our own behavior.
We can’t change any history: it simply is, it happened, and there were reasons why things turned out as they did. We can observe, learn, and respond differently to the facts, moving forward with the knowledge we’ve gained.