What Would You Say to Your Younger Self? MOMFing From the Past
Recently, a friend wondered aloud what we would say to our younger selves knowing what we know now. This is something I have thought about many times. My initial response is always to imagine giving the advice, “Fucker, don’t do that, and don’t do that either.” Then, I stop and remind myself that if I didn’t do all of those incredibly stupid things, I would not have learned the hard lessons I needed to learn. I would not be the person I am today. I’ve decided that I would only tell myself: “Listen up, Shaggy. Control your eating. There will be no future food shortages, and no one will take food away from you….. pace yourself.”
It isn’t that I think I am such a wonderful person, but I think that I understand some things about myself and the world that come from living a life full of mistakes. In my younger years, I had too many “behaving badly while intoxicated” experiences. I almost married the wrong man. I quit a great job. I could go on. However, all of this shapes my perspective and allows me to see life through many different lenses. My son recently said to me, “Mom, when I am a teenager, I need you to keep a close eye on me because I am afraid I will do stupid things.” I responded, “I know for sure that you will do stupid things because that is what teenagers do. I just don’t want you to hurt yourself along the way, and, yes, I will keep a close eye on you.” I could just as easily say to you, “Humans do stupid things.” Sit with it. Accept it. Learn from it, and move on mother fucker.
The only regrets I really have are when I hurt others, but I do pause to think that the hurt I caused may have been part of that person’s journey as well. I am a huge believer in the experience of pain. Pain is the best teacher in life because it really drives home the message if you allow yourself to sit with it. If you do not, then, the same pain will re-visit you over and over until you learn the lesson. Keeping yourself so busy that you don’t feel and reflect on what happened will only delay your growth.
Similarly, overly focusing on the pain and hurt — feeling shame and inappropriate guilt — (inappropriate guilt is guilt when you have done nothing wrong) also get in the way of growth. Shame and inappropriate guilt can be emotional baggage from earlier in life. It is important to stop and identify that you are feeling those feelings. You may not be able to easily get rid of them, but you just say, “Oh, you are back. You can talk all you want, but I’m not going to listen to your shit.” Your job is to not react. Shame and inappropriate guilt just distract you from whatever lesson you really need to learn. (If you have guilt from something you did that you know was wrong, you better apologize, mother fucker.)
There is a fabulous book called, The Precious Present, by Spencer Johnson that everyone should read — takes 10 minutes. Johnson writes: “The present is what it is. It is valuable. Even I do not know why. It is already just the way it is supposed to be. When I see the present, accept the present, and experience the present, I am well, and I am happy. Pain is simply the difference between what is and what I want it to be.”
So, fucker, when you find yourself wanting to re-write the past, know that you are a) wasting your time and distracting yourself from what is important; and b) you are discounting all of the valuable lessons you have learned that have made you the flawed and truly wonderful person you are. See it. Stop fighting it and wishing it away. Accept it, and experience it. Stop creating your own pain. Everything that has happened is to get you ready for what comes next. Be a curious observer of your life. What wild, crazy, amazing thing will happen next? It is your story — the story of your life — . Do you want to own it or leave it to others to define you? MOMF.