Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda (#39)

How much of your mental real estate do you devote to yesterday?

It’s almost second nature for us to dwell on our “I would have”, “I could have”, and our “I should have” thoughts. I call these the “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s.” These thoughts induce shame and include all of our mistakes, regrets, and missed opportunities. Thoughts like:

  • I should have gone to…
  • I could have accomplished that dream if…
  • I would have made a great…
  • I shouldn’t have said that.
  • If only I had taken that leap of faith and…
  • I shouldn’t have done that.
  • I could have been at my goal ____ if only I…
  • I should have told that person how much I loved them.
  • I could have made a difference in this area if…
  • I shouldn’t have wasted so much ___.
  • I would have been better off if I had said/done…
  • I shouldn’t have made that decision.

Sound familiar? So much time and energy is spent on these kinds of thoughts which have no ability to change yesterday, only to distract us from today. We focus on this regret rather than learning from our mistakes, letting them go, and using them as training ground for better decisions ahead.

For most people, the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s occupy valuable real estate in their thought lives and energy capacity. Regret is draining.  As time passes, these thoughts become heavier and heavier to carry around. It burdens our minds, our spirits, and our souls. When we give our thought life over to our woulda, coulda, shoulda’s it robs us from living in and enjoying the here and now. Viewing life from the rear-view mirror causes us to miss what’s in front of us – people in our lives now, upcoming obstacles to navigate, beautiful scenery to enjoy, and milestones up ahead to achieve.

Let me get personal for a moment. You can’t live in the past. You can’t change your past. We can mourn our tragedies and mistakes for a season, but then it is time to dust ourselves off and try again. You must realize that you can only change your future by making the best possible decisions today.

You can determine right now to take that space in your mind back. No more woulda, coulda, shoulda. You can decide not to spend 2022 wishing and regretting. I’m not talking about making a new year’s resolution. I’m talking about breaking free of the past and living for today and your future. I’m talking about taking every woulda, coulda, shoulda thought captive. I’m talking about being intentional this new year and for the rest of your days to examine your thoughts and let the past (regrets and all) reside in the past.

Resolve to build a future with no regrets. A future focused on that which you truly love. Let go of other people’s expectations – let them carry their own baggage – and be who YOU were created to be. The “others” don’t get to decide what gives you joy and peace. You don’t have to fit into their mold.

If you need professional help, seek it. If you have hurt someone, apologize and make amends. If you have been wronged, forgive. If you are in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), go boldly into the throne room of God (Hebrews 4:16), confess your sins, and walk away sure of your forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Let this be the year you accept who you are, past and all. Then move forward with intention to find your place of Enough. The place of perfect abundance and genuine satisfaction. Do it now. Don’t waste another minute on yesterday when you have precious tomorrows to steward well.

2 thoughts on “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda (#39)

  1. Bob Carter

    Excellent!!!!! Hard to do. Am trying. My past is so very humiliating, and the pain I caused to my family was, and is,so very hurtfull that it tears me apart.I want to show them all my deep sorrow for who I was and the terrible things I have done to hurt them. I hope they can forgive me. I pray to GOD every day for forgiveness, and the strength to live up to HIS expectations. In JESUS name I pray.

    • Jesus always offers forgiveness for the heart that is truly repentant. Psalm 51:17 (NLT) says, ““The sacrifice [God] desires is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”

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