How to Deal With the “What Might Have Been”s. {We Can’t Take Every Path. Enjoy the One You’re On.}

For my entire life, I’ve had a bit of trouble letting go of things. Of people. Of friendships. Of memories. Of things of that sort. I hate losing touch — and part of this may have to do with the fact that endings make me uncomfortable. I often find myself wondering about what might have been — if things had worked out with such and such a person, if I had taken a different path in life, and so on and so forth.

But I’ve realized — more so in the past year or so than ever before — that this can do more harm than good. Letting your mind wander down the hundreds of windy paths and courses your life could have taken can get quite exhausting — a truth to which I can testify.

For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: “It might have been!”

-John Greenleaf Whittier

This wondering about “what might have been” can apply to all areas of life — from daily life to friendships to school to relationships and even training. The nagging “what ifs” can become overwhelming if we don’t learn how to approach them – but they can turn into positives if we approach them in the right manner.

So, how do you deal with the “what ifs”? WIth the times when your mind won’t let go of certain people, events, or otherwise — even though every other part of you wants to?

I think that the biggest thing that I’ve learned is to let your emotions take their course.

Let your mind wander. Take your mind down those “what if” paths. Cry if you need to. Take a long drive, blast music, and scream. Or center yourself. Meditate. Whatever it takes. (I’ve done all of these things, haha)

And then… make yourself stop. Even for a bit. Channel that energy into something positive — like a hard, grueling workout. One of the main impetuses in my workouts — the things that push me to pull that faster split in an erg piece, bike ride, run, or otherwise — is thinking about the “what ifs” that have been frustrating me on that particular day. Sometimes of specific people; of specific events; moments, races, or otherwise. It all depends on the day. Sometimes feeling that extra burn after doing so — and pushing extra hard — can let go of some of the frustrations you’ve been feeling.

Training — as I’m sure it is for many of you also — is a way for me to channel my emotions in a direct and productive manner. To let out every ounce, every bit of everything I’m feeling on that given day. A way to attack our ever-wandering minds — and the frustrations over the “what might have been”s head on.

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We can’t take every path. Enjoy the one you’re on.

So, what have I learned from all of this?

Most importantly that “what if”s and the “what might’ve been”s are a part of life. We can’t take every path. Things can’t work out with every person. Not every race is going to go our way. But the best way to deal with this is to take a level-headed, non-extreme approach.

Maybe I’m crazy that I let the “what might have been”s get to me sometimes… but hey, I’ve learned a lot from it. I’ve learned to not ignore your feelings… but to also not wallow.

Find your happy medium. And enjoy the positive people, events, and things in your life right now — because they’re the “what if”s that came true — for a reason. Seriously. 🙂

How do you approach your thoughts and feelings about “what might have been” in a level-headed way so that they don’t interfere with (rather, aid in) training or other aspects of life?

Tri Hard,

Caity

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