For years now I’ve been feeling guilty. I once did something I regret so much! Looking back today I see so many other things I could have done instead! So many other solutions to my problem! So many choices!
Sometimes we feel guilty for something we did in the past. We look back and think, ‘I shouldn’t have done that.’ And punish ourselves for not having found other solutions or for not having behaved the way we would today.
But we’re looking back from today, a time in which our knowledge and experience are bigger or different. We look back and analyze our acts and behavior in hindsight. But what about then? Did we know any better? Or did we do things the best we could?
In life, we react based on our best knowledge. We do things thinking we’re doing our best. And even so, we make mistakes. But should we feel guilty?
Imagine still feeling guilty today for having pushed your four year-old friend in kindergarten thirty years ago… It doesn’t make sense, does it? You learned better, right? You pushed him then because you didn’t know how to negotiate, discuss, agree, disagree or even respond properly to somebody sticking their tongue at you. You just did the only thing you knew how to do. Back then, at that time and given your age and your knowledge of the world, you could only push him and get your anger out of your system 🙂
And you might say… ‘but wait a minute… I knew better than that!’ Yes, maybe you did, but there were other aspects involved, too. Maybe you were too tired to think straight because you had skipped your nap. So, even if you theoretically knew better, you were in no REAL state to react any other way. You just did it the best you could. Like we all always do.
It’s very easy to look back and see our mistakes. It’s much harder to accept that we all always do it the best we can.
So next time you feel guilty about something, ask yourself if you are guilty today with today’s knowledge about something that happened in the past. And then ask yourself if you had all the knowledge, absolutely all the knowledge you have today back when the event happened. I’m pretty certain you will realize you didn’t know as much.
So stop blaming yourself for your past. You did it the best you could.
And stop blaming others, too, by the way. They also did it the best they could… given their own circumstances and knowledge.
Enjoy life… all of it, J.