Letting the past be the past can be one of the greatest lessons you’ll ever learn. It was for me. Now I never look back in regret or guilt for longer than I absolutely have to.
A while back I heard a story about a pilot. He was in a plane crash and among the few survivors. Though happy about being alive, he also felt guilty about not being able to stop the crash. For years all those lives weighted down on his conscience. It meant he lived a life feeling sorry day in and day out.
But through years of working hard on processing the event, the day where he could move on finally arrived. It was the day that he learned to let the past be the past. He got over the incident and understood that no matter how much he thought about it – there was absolutely nothing he could do about it now.
The pilot learned a valuable lesson. It was a shame it took him many years to realise that fact. Though, it’s completely understandable he needed some time to get past such a harsh experience. Dozens of lives were lost.
Hopefully, neither you nor I will ever have to face as tough circumstances through our jobs. But we probably will face decisions where we would wish that we had taken another route. Accepting that as an inevitability is a must, because then we can understand how to handle such situations better.
Worst case is that we may face countless sleepless nights replaying crossroad situations in our minds. Wondering about how we could and should have acted differently for a better outcome. But the sooner we can accept the past the better. We benefit much by keeping a forward focus instead. This will save us a lot of stress in our careers.
After I heard the story about the pilot, I actively started working with myself when faced with regret or guilt. Every time I catch myself feeling bad about something that happed during the day I say to myself: “Never mind! Get over it. There’s nothing you can do about it now.” That’s the first step. The second step – to put my mind further at ease – is asking myself: “What can I do tomorrow to improve the situation?”
Oftentimes I come up with some sort of fix. Leaving me feeling much better. Sometimes I come up empty. It happens. But the important thing is that I, in the first step, accepted what happened and moved on.
You might be asking if this always works. Most of the time it does. I stop thinking about my regret or guilt, which is the whole point anyway. There are times when it doesn’t. In the grand scheme of things I have found it to be one of the most important tools I use on a weekly basis to keep things on an even cool. Rarely have I lost sleep or spent days stressing about something that happened in the past. I have been frustrated. Who hasn’t? Even mad at times. But it has lasted a shorter while after I learned this lesson.