By Joan Endicott
“What is happening to me?” I thought. It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m now in the fetal position on my bed. My spine is on fire – my joints are screaming in pain. “Dear God, please help me!”
My husband Mark quickly called the doctor’s after-hours emergency number to see what could be done. “My wife’s in terrible pain. She took one pill of the prescription you gave her earlier today.” He shared the side effects I was experiencing. “If I take her to the Emergency Room, can anything be done to reverse this drug? Is there any antidote to counteract these terrible effects?”
“No, there is nothing that can reverse it – no antidote. It just needs to run its course,” the doctor told him. Even more concerning was that this was an extremely high dose, a one-week time-release pill I had taken at noon. It was only afternoon and my body was in full-on rebellion from this drug that was poison to my system.
In addition to the physical pain, enormous regret set in. Questions began bombarding my brain: “Oh Joan, why did you take that stupid pill? Why didn’t you do more research…ask more questions…get other expert opinions, before acting on one doctor’s recommendation?”
Regret: To feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over [something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity].
Regret can come by our own hand, by others, or life circumstances. But no matter the source I’m sure you’ll agree, regret is one of life’s biggest thieves. Every time you think about something in the past that you can do nothing to fix, change or control, you just wasted even more irreplaceable moments of your life. Is that worth the price it demands? Left unchecked, regret is like a cancer that will consume everything in its path.
One of the greatest challenges we face in life is to have a series of struggles, stumbles and setbacks and still choose the courage David demonstrated when facing Goliath, to overcome our own giants. That is exactly what separates those who will stay in the Land of Regret by giving up on what could be next, and those who look back long enough to learn life lessons, then choose to begin again. So why do they get up and get going? Because they know that what’s even harder than the struggle itself is living with having given up.
A powerful example of one who chose to let go of the past and begin again is Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He held 355 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. Though it appears his intention for this invention was for mining and commercial use, it did end up being used in war.
In 1888 when Alfred’s brother Ludvig died, a French newspaper mistakenly published Alfred’s obituary instead. The obituary stated, Le marchand de la mort est mort (“The merchant of death is dead”) and went on to say, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
Alfred read the obituary and was appalled at the idea that he would be remembered in this way. His decision to posthumously donate the majority of his wealth ($250,000,000 by today’s standards) to found the Nobel Prize has been credited, at least in part, to him wanting to leave behind a better legacy. (Source: Wikipedia)
I first heard about Mr. Nobel’s decision to redirect his life years ago from my dear mentor and the leadership legend, Ken Blanchard. What impacted me further was hearing how Alfred’s story personally impacted Ken, and what he did with it.
Ken shared with me, “Hearing the story of Alfred Nobel motivated me to create my own purpose statement so I wasn’t having others tell me who I was. My purpose statement is, ‘To be a loving teacher and example of simple truths that help myself and others to awaken to the presence of God in our lives so we realize we’re here to serve and not to be served.’”
Don’t you love that? In addition to his purpose itself, I loved hearing why it became so important to Ken to write it: So I wasn’t having others tell me who I was. Friend, if you ever feel off-purpose or a lack of clarity on who you are or what you’re here for, this is the perfect time to start writing your own statement. After all, isn’t that what life is all about – to live on-purpose for the purpose for which God put you here? I hope Ken’s example inspires you to start yours today!
Also think about Paul, who used to be Saul. He certainly had a great deal to regret from his life prior to his real-life, come-to-Jesus, road-to-Damascus experience. Having been a chief persecutor of Christians, can you imagine the potential for regret? Of all people, he would have every reason to wallow in past failures and allow them to swallow any present and future positive performance, but he did not!
Phil. 3:12-14 (NIV) – “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In the study footnote it makes the distinction that, “Forgetting is not about losing all memory of his sinful past but leaving it behind him as done with and settled.”
Looking back should be with a specific, empowering purpose of learning, growing and helping ourselves and others to live our divine destiny even more effectively.
“So, what do I do when I can’t undo what was done?”
In the midst of that medical emergency, here’s what helped me move on:
- Replace Regret with a Reset Mindset– Remind yourself that regret offers you zero benefit. You have thepower to reset your mindset to positive forward thinking – which results in positive action.
- Ask yourself only empowering questions, not disempowering ones:“What is the best thing I can do right now?” Not, “Why’d you do such a stupid thing?”
- W.I.N.– To take any situation and make it a “WIN”, ask “WhatIs Next?” or “What’s most Important Now?” Make a list of your options.
- Ask for Help!If you, too, are someone who hesitates to ask for help, I have two words for you: Stop it! I’m not sure why, butsome of us really hesitate to ask for help. NEWS FLASH: We all need help! God designed us for community.
- Find Treasures in the Trial– Some of life’s gifts are wrapped in struggle paper. Your brain is wired to find what you decide you’re going to look for.I can regret what is lost or reset my thinking and choose to look at what is left. Where did I see God’s blessings? What am I grateful for?
I love the healing hope delivered in Lamentations 3:22-23: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” WOW! Just pause for a moment to ponder and breathe in that beautiful, blessed truth of God’s character. His mercies are new every single morning. No matter where you are in life, if your heart is beating and you’re breathing, it’s not too late. In fact, today my friend, is your day – the exact right time for you to begin again.
Hope is on your horizon!
Grab your FREE copy of Joan’s “I Get To!”® book at JoanEndicott.com and sign up for her FREE blog videos. Joan Endicott is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author of “I Get To!”® founder of GIANT-Slayer Coaching and “WOW!” Women Owning Their Worth©. Her coaching reaches over 30 countries. Follow her on FB and IG for more encouraging words!