Yesterday I went to visit my mom. I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks. I feel that my remaining time with her is precious and I want to make the most of it.
She’s nearing 86 years old. She’s in relatively good health considering her age and some of the stress she’s gone through over the years. She forgets things here and there and sometimes asks the same questions. While I was there, she had me put some plastic covers on hangers because it was too complicated for her. She also needed help learning to use her new Delonghi espresso maker. After several failed attempts at brewing a shot of espresso I was finally able to make it work. It doesn’t seem to matter what age you are, some things are a little bit more challenging at first attempt.
While we talked, the topic of Palm Springs came up. We both lamented how we missed it. We weren’t making trips to Palm Springs as often as we once had. We had a house there once back in the 1980’s which my parents had to sell due to financial challenges. My mom brought up for the 1000th time her regrets around selling this house and the rental agency that they used to try and create rental income on the house. Unfortunately the house was rarely rented and they were forced to sell. Palm Springs wasn’t the hot bed for vacation back then that it is today and the economy was in a bad place at the time.
I told my mom she had to let it go. That carrying these regrets around is exhausting. She replied, “Oh I have so many regrets. It is exhausting”.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
― Lao Tzu
I walked away from my visit thinking, I don’t want to be 86 and feeling regretful. Not only that, is there any way my mom can let go of some of this so that she can enjoy her remaining years in peace, free of regret? How can I live my life today, so that at 86 I am at peace?
So much of living life without regrets is acceptance. Accepting what is and what will be – just as it is today. With all regrets, we’re wishing for a different outcome. This isn’t possible. The outcome is what it is and there is nothing you can do to change the outcome. What you can do, is accept it & learn from it.
At 86, my mom is probably not going to learn too much more about accepting the financial situation and lesson that brought about the sale of the Palm Springs house. At this time, it’s just a part of her past. She has to let it go. But what she gives to me is a valuable lesson. She’s taught me about the pros and cons of owning multiple homes. She’s showing me what happens when you hold onto regrets – the exhaustion she feels as she gets caught up in those memories and relives the choices that were made.
You can also learn forgiveness. Beating yourself up for the choices you made in the past, serves no useful purpose. There is absolutely nothing gained by chastising yourself. Beating yourself up is exhausting. Living in the past is exhausting. Forgiving yourself for past choices you regret is a huge step towards providing relief. Forgive yourself. You’re learning. Be compassionate and kind with yourself.
Focus on today. Be present to what is happening today. Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Learn from them. Then let it go.
Repeat the above steps daily until things feel different.