Most of us have regrets. I am learning to live a life now–that leads to less regrets later. Here are some of the ways that I am living my life now so that I have no regrets later.
A friend asked me—do you think about people from your past and wished you had loved them more.
I said, yes, I really do. I thought of so many people who have been in my life, who I did not love as well as I could have. Of course I have regrets about them!
And then I was quiet. Because a thought came to me.
I wished I had loved myself more too.
You see, I didn’t always love myself. And I don’t mean love myself in a narcissist selfish way. I mean simply loving myself enough to have good boundaries, loving myself enough to not settle too early, and loving myself to honor my true self.
I don’t blame anyone for that or even myself. It just was. I grew up in a time and a place and a family where while I was loved, I wasn’t particularly told that I was wonderful. My experience as a child was that I was less than. Or not quite good enough. I’m not saying anyone ever said these things—but it’s what I internalized while growing up.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of things to make those feelings of not feeling like enough go away. And not always in healthy ways! I have regrets about things that I can’t change now.
Until, a few years ago, when I found myself truly on my own. No husband. Kids grown and on their own.
All I had was my own company most of the time. And I didn’t particularly like it.
Let me add a disclaimer here. I am close to my kids and I do have friends. I had support during this time. But I was living alone for the first time in my life and I hated it. Hated it. Yet something started happening. I started getting to know myself better.
I realized that I was anxious and afraid a lot of the time.
However, I also realized that I love to exercise, walk, and be in nature. I found my voice and began sharing it. I had a lot to say about food, walking, forgiveness, and all kinds of other things. I started the work of forgiving all kinds of people. I began to forgive myself.
Some things worked out well. Others not so much. I began to appreciate the part of me that liked to explore, that was fearless, that was not afraid to make a mistake.
In fact, I realized that was a huge part of who I am. And another part of who I am is that I wanted to live in a way that would lead to no regrets later.
One of the best things about getting older is getting to the place that I truly care for myself. Maybe because I was forced to or maybe because it was an opportunity that I took advantage of. Either way—I did it.
I learned to say no, instead of yes, when no was the right answer.
I learned to say yes, even when I was scared, if yes resonated loudly within my heart.
I learned to take my time on some things and speed up on others.
I learned that no one in the world knows what’s better for me than I do.
I learned that wise people come into my life—sometimes for a minute and sometimes for a lifetime. And that I should listen to them.
I learned to grieve. I learned to laugh through bad times without letting them consume me.
I learned to forgive. HUGE
I’ve learned to love without expecting things in return.
I’ve learned to receive love. Not as easy as it sounds!
I’ve learned to give the benefit of the doubt.
But before I learned all these things I needed to learn to love myself. Or maybe it was through learning these things that I learned to love myself.
Does it matter?
I still hate living alone. I look forward to sharing a life and home with someone, someday. Yet, I am also blessed to have discovered so many gifts from this time alone that I’m willing to be on my own until I feel the ground firmly under my own feet.
The final piece to learning to love myself better is that when I do, I am able to love others better. And by loving others better, I have fewer regrets.
Being a human, I’ll probably never feel like I love some people in a way that expresses how much I care about them. We all fall short.
Yet, I do believe, that by learning to love myself better, I’ll be able to love those in my life better than I ever have been able to in the past. Hopefully, when I look back on these times, I won’t feel regrets about how I have loved the people in my life.
Do you ever look back on your life and wish you have loved other people more?
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I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.