How often do you do the shoulda, woulda, coulda dance?
Who hasn’t at some point had a case of the shoulda, woulda, couldas?
In case you haven’t heard this expression before, it stands for I should have, I would have, I could have.
You probably worked this out already but shoulda, woulda, coulda is mostly about regret.
It’s also highly hindsight-driven. Once something has happened, it’s easy to look back and say we should have taken a different path for a better result.
It’s a big old game of what if.
Sometimes playing what-if can be interesting and insightful. Other times it can be toxic and depressing.
The difference often being dictated by your current mindset, the way you approach it, and what you want to get out of the exercise.
So how do we ditch the should have, would have, could have’s? Let’s look at a few ideas.
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The minute I hear myself thinking or saying I should, my awareness kicks in.
The phrases I should have or I should be rarely lead you to your happy place. More likely, it’s the beginning of a beating yourself up emotionally mini-marathon.
Train yourself to pick up on words like I should have straight away so you can stop your negative thoughts in their tracks.
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Tame that wandering mind
While I am all for daydreaming, brainstorming, and setting time aside for creativity, it’s important to not let your mind just wander anywhere it damn well pleases.
A focused or relaxed mind isn’t going to stroll into shoulda territory as much as one that we let randomly stroll down memory lane.
Related post – When Do You Let Your Mind Wander?
Accept things as they are now
Let’s be honest, we can shoulda, woulda, coulda all we like but it won’t change what is happening right now. If anything, it only makes accepting what we have to deal with even more difficult.
While I realize that’s not much comfort, the only moment you can take action on is right now, so if you accept things as they are in this moment, instead of pondering on how they could have been you are much more likely to make progress and move forward.
Related post – How to Overcome Feelings of ‘That Should Have Been Me’
Understand you can’t do everything
Sometimes it’s not so much about regret but more a fact that we can’t do everything.
Choosing one path means not going down another one (or at least not at the same time).
Choosing one priority over another means having to sacrifice something. Life is all about choices and priorities and we can’t do everything, see everything, or be everywhere.
It’s a basic fact that we all know but that doesn’t mean we won’t have the occasional internal struggle getting our heads around it.
Related post – The Myth of a Life with No Regrets
Don’t take it too seriously
Sometimes we have to laugh off the shoulda, woulda, and coulda feelings.
Granted not every situation is going to full into the laugh and shake it off category but some of it will.
When you can laugh it off and take the seriousness out of it, go for it.
Related post – How to Laugh More
Let go of the past
I know, I know this isn’t easy but it’s also essential!
While we all know we should let go of the past, there is one element of letting go that we tend to overlook.
We forget how beneficial it is to let go of the past quickly. Emphasis on the quickly!
Sure some of us let go but it takes a really long time.
I would love to say there is a one-size-fits-all magic ticket for this one but there isn’t because of the fact that we all process our thoughts, feelings, and emotions differently. What I do know is that you need to find your unique blend of ‘secret sauce’ (so to speak) for letting things go.
You have to find a healthy, effective system that helps you move on as quickly as possible.
Related post – Letting Go of What Happened When You Are Still Dealing with the Consequences
Be on the lookout for clues
Often our shoulda, woulda, coulda statement is actually trying to tell us something.
It might be trying to uncover something we desperately want but perhaps haven’t had the courage, time, or energy to go after.
Listen closely to the could have part of the conversation. It might be telling you something that your heart desires.
Pay attention and listen for meaningful clues.
When it comes to working out your heart’s desire, Danielle LaPorte is the woman you need. I’ve read both of Danielle’s brilliant books The Fire Starter Sessions and The Desire Map.
Conduct a logical review
Remember me mentioning earlier how hindsight and what-ifs can sometimes be helpful and insightful?
Well, it’s true but you have to be smart about it.
It also helps if you put your logical hat on and put your emotional hat to one side for a moment. In a nutshell, no wallowing or pity parties are allowed.
The point of looking back in time for this exercise is to help you make a better choice next time or to not make the same mistake again. Either way, it’s to benefit you moving forward. It is definitely not an exercise that should hold you back.
Related posts – Are You Repeating the Same Mistakes?
Don’t be too hard on yourself
After you have done your logic review, be kind to yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself particularly when it comes to feeling like you weren’t courageous enough.
Years ago when I was being harassed on a daily basis by my new manager, I know I should have resigned. But between not having any money to fall back on and worrying about how it would look on my resume (as in, would I get another job?) I stayed. It turned out to be a bad move.
I found myself in an even worse situation because I wasn’t courageous enough to leave. It was a hard thing to admit.
Make peace with the hard stuff and be kind to yourself through the process.
If you’ve taken a hit in life recently, you might be feeling a little worse for wear. You might need to build up your resilience and learn how to be brave and bold again. CreativeLive has an excellent online course that can help.
The course is How to Be Bold, Resilient and Better Than Ever and it can help you learn from your mistakes and failures, become more resilient, and bounce back with courage and determination. Check the curriculum for yourself to see how this course can help you and help move your life forward.
Live in the moment
Right now is where the action happens.
Living in the moment to the fullest of your ability is where you kick shoulda, woulda, coulda to the curb.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends on social media, it might be just what they need today to boot them out of their flashback moment and back into the joy of the present!
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