I do my best to stay in the present and not fall into the trap of looking backward or forward. But it's hard. I mean really hard. I know, in my mind, it's silly to look at stupid mistakes I made, yet, I decided to stay up all night and go over every dreadful thing I did and said. It was maddening. Here's a sample of the wonderful conversation I had with myself. "Seriously, how far back are we going tonight? I was six years old; let it go."
"I can't. I'm embarrassed, and that's just the beginning. We still have middle and high school and just wait until we get to college."
"This is dumb. Stop it now. There's nothing I can do to change any of it, so why rehash it?"
"Oh, the train is leaving the station, and there's no jumping off. I'm going to take you on a long ride tonight. You can fight it all you want, but it will only get worse. To make it even more interesting, I've found a song that will play on a continuous loop every time you think you're about to go to sleep."
Needless to say, I was up all night. I wish I had the cure that would magically put my mind at ease when I get on these reckless tangents. The only thing I know to do is take a moment and reflect on what's troubling me. The regret machine usually kicks in when I'm not feeling good about myself. Having setbacks has a way of deflating my confidence, and worrying about my future rears its ugly head. Fortunately, I have good friends I can call and voice my fears without feeling judged. They especially like being entertained as I give each side of my brain its own voice. (One has a Long Island accent, and the other sounds like a Valley Girl.)
It's incredible how talking about my concerns and being reassured that we all slip back into our past from time to time made me feel better. It was an opportunity to be vulnerable and admit I don't have all the answers, but I'm willing to learn. Sharing our doubts and fears doesn't make us weak; it allows others to express their worries as well, and together we can better understand ourselves. I've learned I need to put a structured game plan in place to follow. Then, I will know what I'm doing moving forward instead of floundering from one project to the next.
We all put undue pressure on ourselves to find and keep success going. However, once it starts interfering with our sleep, we must take time out and address it. I, for one, do not want to ride the crazy train on a regular basis. Beating myself up doesn't help; I'm not perfect, and all I can do is learn from my mistakes and hope to do better. But, come on, I was six years old; give me a break.