It is important as we reflect on the choices that we make to do so for only two purposes (1) to celebrate and reinforce the choices that have improved our quality of life and (2) to learn from the choices that did not serve us well, in order to make better choices in the future.
When we look back on decisions that did not serve us well, we can feel regret, remorse, guilt, shame, embarrassment, and loss. These are appropriate emotional responses to poor decisions. It means we know that we deserve to live better – to make choices that produce happiness and peace.
However, if we inflate these emotions to use as weapons of self-punishment, we are then making the poor choice to be self-abusive. This can entrap us, spiral us to depression, and immobilize our best efforts.
So here’s a better approach:
(1) Identify the choice (or series of choices) that produced the negative outcome or loss.
(2) Feel the pain of the loss, so as to re-mind your Self that you do not want to repeat the pattern, because you do not want to feel the pain of this loss again.
(3) Once you have clearly identified the faulty choice, and grieved the loss, then identify how you want to do it differently – what choice(s) now will result in your desired outcome.
(4) Allow your mind to dwell on this positive outcome. Re-mind your Self that what we focus on magnifies. Feel the celebration of the right choice. Allow these feelings and images to inflate, grow, expand, become larger, more intense, and more vivid. Feel the celebrationn of these choices. Feel the joy, happiness, and contentment. Feel the sense of mastery and pride of accomplishment – of a choice well made, a job well done.
(5) Stay focused on the new path. Re-mind your Self that what we focus on magnifies. No need to review the lesson. Avoid self-criticism. Re-mind your Self that we learn best in a safe, supportive state. Re-mind your Self that you are creating a new, and even more interesting, path now. Celebrate that you walk this path one step at a time. And each step has a cumulative effect – moving you persistently toward the joy-full state in which you desire and deserve to live.