There are so many things that I know now that I wish I knew then. Isn’t it always like that? Could have, should have, would have? I remember being a child and thinking about how little I knew the previous year, compared to where I found myself at that time. “Look at second grade April”, I would say to myself, “she didn’t’ even know how to multiply last year. Boy, she was stupid!” I would judge and compare the little girl then to the person I was at that time and I think I did that just about every year. It became very subconscious, these comparisons, and at some point I started to drag other people into this self-imposed, mental torture, comparing myself not only to my former self, but to others as well. It is so ego based and emotionally driven. Stepping back and observing these patterns is an interesting thing. I was in competition with the old me and everyone else and pretty much finding myself on the losing end every time. It is a sick game our minds play with us. Most everyone else does it too and are probably highly oblivious to their patterns. “Comparision is the thief of joy.” It truly is. I think this is no where more evident then on social media. What a sad state of affairs that can be!
At some point, probably like 40 years later, it occurred to me that most the time I was doing the best I knew to do at that time utilizing the limited information I had at that moment. At about the same time it also occurred to me that that is also the case with most others. People don’t normally set out to consciously make mistakes or victimize one another. Except for a small minority of sociopaths, narcissists and psychopaths, most people don’t intentionally hurt other people or make bad decisions on purpose. People, by and large, erroneously, emotionally react to the circumstances that they find themselves in and subsequently hurt themselves and others in that process. So judging, competing or calling out ourselves or others regarding mistakes and poor decisions made in the past is largely a waste of time and energy. If you would have known better, you would have done better, but you didn’t. I didn’t. We all do what we know, at the time, with the information and often highly subjective perception we have at that time. Our perceptions are largely shaped by our understanding. Our understanding is limited and often stunted by our emotions. Emotion is pretty much all we have until we become more conscious and consciousness, for most of us, is a long process depending on how much trauma and stress we have suffered and how we have reacted to it. When you start to see things in that light, and it is a light, you begin to understand that resenting yourself or others and the pain you or they have caused is really counterintuitive to growth and maturity.
So many decisions I have made have been the wrong ones and it’s tempting to succumb to a sea of regret. Looking back, however, there is much good that has come from the disasters I have lived through, often at my own hands. There are things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise and I honestly wouldn’t be the person I am today without having faced those trials that were largely the product of poor decisions. I honestly like the person I am today. I think she needs to grow more and shed a few bad habits but all in all I like her and the person she has become and is becoming. I am learning to love the person she was before as well. I really feel for that person because she embodied a lot of qualities that I know come from a very unconscous place. She was a very traumatized individual. The people that hurt her were also very traumatized individuals.
I often see this image in my mind when I ponder these thoughts. I see us all at an amusement park and we are in bumper cars. We don’t really know how to control the cars we are in. It is a strange and new experience for all of us! Some people are just trying to avoid being hit but they keep getting hit anyway and running into others no matter how they try to maneuver their vehicle away from everyone else. Some people think they will come out on top by gunning for others so they hit first but in the process their car gets pummeled. Everyone one is pretty much running into everyone else and there seems no end to it.
In life it is unavoidable that we are all going to run into one another, no matter what our intent might be, because we simply don’t know how to handle the vehicle we find ourselves in. No one is born with all the answers and honestly we need to be working on finding them for ourselves rather than spending time pointing out that others don’t seem to have them! Depending on how many “hits” we have sustained our internal guidance system often malfunctions or stops working altogether. When this happens we either run from conflict and appease others for our safety or we set out on the attack hitting before we are hit. When the guidance system stops working all together, that is dangerous. These individuals do really intend to hurt others, but for most of us, thankfully, our guidance system is merely malfunctioning.
Give yourself a break, you did the best you knew at the time and if you would have known better, you would have done better. So stop judging yesterday’s you! Give others the same break. They did the best they knew to do at the time and if they would have known better most of them would have done better. This doesn’t mean that the minority isn’t still out there, the ones that really are intending to inflict pain. Watch out for them and have appropriate boundaries where they are concerned. But don’t resent them. We become what we hate and if that is the case you really don’t want that guidance system to stop working altogether!