“Should have” is the most useless phrase in the world
We’ve all made mistakes–sometimes horrible choices that screw up our lives for months or years to come. We often confide in other people and try to find a way to clean up the mess. The absolute least helpful thing you or anyone can do is focus on what you did wrong and talk about what you what you “should have” done. What are you supposed to do? Get in your time machine and go back to make the right decision? No! You can’t do that. So what’s the point of beating yourself or others up about what “should have” happened? It’s a waste of time. It also causes you to get stuck in the past when what you really need to do is move into the present and think about the future…and how you can correct the problem. So next time you find yourself worrying about what you “should have” said or done, stop right there and move on to what you are going to do next instead. It’s the only way to keep moving forward!
Don’t let others tell you what you should have done…ask them what happens next instead.
Today I am thinking about how tempting it is to take instant results instead of waiting for something better. How many times do these trips down dead-end roads steer us away from our real goals and the road we should be on? Do we take dead-end jobs because they pay more money immediately, but end up missing out on real careers that start slowly but pay off in the long run? Do we date the person that’s kind of fun for now and waste our time, which keeps us from meeting the person we really want to be with? Do we take a day off work to play and miss out on making money that we need? It is so easy to pursue instant gratification, but in the end the cost is often more than it’s worth. There is a need to take risks to get to our end goals, but it is important that we don’t take too many detours from our real desires, because every quick and fun dead-end keeps us from reaching what we really want. Real success and satisfaction comes from looking ahead in life and never settling for the cheap imitation of what we truly desire.
It’s okay to ask for what you want!
It is okay to ask for what you need and want! Many people know this from the start, many people take it too far, and some of us don’t honor our needs or wants at all. From the time I was a child, I was shown and told that my needs and wishes did not matter. Everything was about my parents’ needs. So, I learned to shrink into the background and meet everyone else’s needs…while ignoring my own. I would fear doing anything that was the least bit inconsiderate of others, (or in my very humble mind, even seemed inconsiderate.) For example, if I needed to use the restroom during class, or at a movie, or somewhere in public, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t ask, and I wouldn’t disturb others no matter how badly I needed to go. I thought it would be rude. In my college dorm room, I listened to my radio very quietly so I wouldn’t bother anyone. I was always hyper-conscious of not bothering others or asking others for anything. With my first spouse, I gave him the big closet in our bedroom and I used the little one in the spare bedroom. I also gave him the big bathroom so I could use the little one. I always put myself last. In relationships, I would give, give, give, but feel guilty or selfish about asking for what I needed–or even equal treatment. But the reality is, it is NOT wrong to ask for what you need or want. Of course, you can’t force the person you are asking to give you what you need or want, but there is nothing wrong with expressing your needs.
Now I’m not saying we should run around demanding luxuries. I’m saying we shouldn’t feel guilty about taking care of ourselves, or even wanting fair treatment. Getting your needs met or even some of your wants is not spoiling yourself. It’s honoring yourself. I used to feel guilty for “splurging” on medical care when I had credit card bills to pay. How backwards! I should have put my health and my body ahead of being a good consumer!
When I first got divorced, I decided to treat myself like I mattered. No more putting myself last. I bought some nice perfume, got a new haircut, and started taking lots of relaxing bubble baths to de-stress and feel good about myself. Crazy how it took me 30 years to realize I was allowed to do that–that I didn’t have to hide in a corner and disappear while others met their needs and desires. These days, I feel less shy about stating what I need and taking care of myself. What an important lesson to learn!
Don’t settle for other people’s choices. Make your own!
I have realized that I have a problem with settling instead of respecting my own desires and needs. I do this all the time! I have told myself it’s because I’m good at compromising and caring about others first, but I have come to realize I take it too far until I don’t care for myself at all. I can’t count how many men I’ve dated just because they asked me out, and I thought I would be nice and accept. Even when I knew these men had qualities that I didn’t really care for, I have never been one to turn a person down because of some characteristics. (Assuming no drugs or crime or really obviously bad things.) For example, I used to date a man who was in his thirties and lived with his parents and had no goals. He worked as a bagger part-time in a grocery store. At that time, I thought I was being very open-minded and accepting, but…I ended up supporting the guy for years while I worked and he spent the days having fun in the sun and spending my money! Another time, I dated a man to whom I had no attraction, and with whom I had very little in common, because he kept pushing and saying how much he liked me. Well, how about whether or not I liked him? I didn’t take MY thoughts into consideration. I just went out with him thinking I’d give him a chance and maybe I’d find out I did like him. (By the way, I didn’t.) I have been open-minded to differences, bad habits, and more because I wanted to be caring and accepting. I have been willing to compromise in ways that others haven’t. How many of these people would be so open and boundary-less in return? None. I can’t decide if this makes me a nice person or a sucker. I’m leaning a bit toward sucker. Not that it is bad to be accepting, but I need to be aware of my own needs in situations, and all too often, I’m willing to throw my needs away. I have done so many things I didn’t really want to do just to be nice to my friends or even acquaintances. Many times, I have done things for people that they’d never think to do for me in return. Too many times, I have lived my life based on what others dragged me into rather than just making my own decision. There are things I want in my life for sure, and things I definitely do not want have in my life. Then there are most things that aren’t essential either way. I think it’s about time I got choosier and insisted on meeting my top desires instead of just following others towards what they want and letting them pick for me. I need to stop mixing up reasonable compromise with neglecting myself!
There are so many lessons learned that I need to get better at living:
It’s okay to say no
It’s okay to reasonably voice your desires
It’s okay to pursue your goals
It’s okay not to settle