Do you have regrets… that voice in your head that says “my life would have been better if only I had done this, or hadn’t done that”?

I know I do.

Then I was reading a book in which a woman decides to commit suicide and lands in a place in between life and death. While there, she is able to look at her regrets and travel to parallel universes to see how her life would have been different with another choice.

What I found interesting is that although one area of her life seemed better (or at least different), that new choice also created unforeseen circumstances that affected other areas, or directed outcomes in different ways than expected.

For example, one of her regrets was that she had allowed her beloved cat to go outside the previous evening. It was later found dead by the side of the road, presumably hit by a car. Now in the parallel life she visited, she didn’t let her cat out in order to keep it safe… and instead found it dead under her bed. The cat died from an undiagnosed heart condition in both lives, and her regret and self-blame was based on false assumptions.

While I realize that this book is fiction (or is it – who really knows!), it got me thinking… is there another way to look at the choices we make and later regret in life?

While it may seem as though our lives are dictated by the larger decisions that we make. In actuality, it’s the many small choices made every day that define our lives the most. They are the ones that set you up to make the bigger decisions, because they determine who you are, how you act/react and what you are ultimately attracted to.

So it had it wondering… would my life really have been better if I’d made different choices with some of my regrets? While it would have definitely been different… would it really have been better?

My mind likes to tell me so – in fact, in my mind everything would have been “perfect” if only I had done this, or hadn’t done that.

But what if that isn’t true?

So… I decided to play a game. I took one of the regrets from my life – one of the “my life would have so much better if only ___” ones, and decided to write out other possible outcomes. I created stories about what might have been different if I’d made another choice… and how that choice might have also affected other areas of my life.

While I may never really know what could or would have been, this exercise gave my mind other possible outcomes that could just as likely have been true. And that shift in perspective actually helped me move away from feeling so much regret and self-judgment for “messing things up”, and into wondering if maybe I am where I am right now for a reason.

Maybe we all really are where we need to be. Maybe there is something trying to direct each of us forward in the way that will uniquely serve us best. And maybe if we can get out of my own way, and calm down our own shame and blame, we can see that some of our regrets may actually have be acts of perfect unfolding of opportunities, just trying to get us to look at things differently.

So… what if things aren’t always what we think they are.

While regret can be a hard pill to swallow, try asking yourself “is this really what I think it is?”. It just might make things feel much easier… and open the doors for more insight and clarity.