Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Commandment 3

The next commandment on my list is short, sweet and really hard.

3. Let it go.

My brother-in-law can make a decision or a choice and regardless of how it turns out he does not revisit it over and over.  I would pay real money to be able to do that.  I love to replay things in my head, trying out different scenarios, as if by sheer force of persistence I could change how things turned out.  This is one of those places where evolution took a wrong turn. What possible use to the species is this kind of self-torture?  And I know I'm not the only one. This is a frequent topic of conversation with people I know: how do you let the mistake or the wrong choice or the bad relationship go?   It's not that I hold grudges.  I have very little trouble forgiving others for their mistakes (except in one or two instances).  But my own errors?  They follow me around like some kind of deranged puppy, begging for my attention.  Those unproductive thoughts are particularly obstinate if my mistake or bad decision affected someone else.  I am in favor of learning from mistakes but this kind of gerbil-on-a-wheel thinking is not helpful.  I must repeatedly remind myself: Let It Go.  I have gotten a tiny little bit better at it.  


LMP said...

I've just finished up Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely (I think that's his last name). There is an entire chapter devoted to our inability to close a door - to eliminate an option. Often this is at great expense to us. It kind of reminds me of what you're talking about here. Good book. I enjoyed it.

The Plaid Sheep said...

@LMP: I have reserved it at the library. It sounds interesting. I also read something about how people will accept less as long as they are winning over someone else. More evolutionary mismanagement.

Cosmopolitan Omphaloskepsis said...

I agree that obsessing over (perceived) failures is disruptive and resource-consuming.


I can see a very good evolutionary reason for it. If you pick up a stick that has pretty orange and black rings and it bites you, it makes a lot of sense to remember not to do that. The trick is to learn from your mistake and move on.