There’s an episode of one of the greatest show’s to ever grace our TV’s (in my humble opinion), ‘Sex and the City’ that uses the exact same tag that I’ve titled this post with. Carrie, who’s writing career I never could quite understand (who makes THAT MUCH money writing a single column a week? Who!?) but who I idolised none the less is taken for a trip down memory lane, complete with the ghosts of boyfriends and pregnancies past.
In reflecting back, Carrie lets loose with this gem; ‘As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going.‘ Oh Carrie, you bloody well nailed it. I may not ‘get’ you all the time, nor will I ever understand how you never managed to cook a single meal in your rent controlled, NY apartment, but man, you can lay some simplified wisdom on me anytime.
I think motherhood sometimes brings with it a mean case of the ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’s’. I know I’ve been guilty of falling prey to them more than once. And I’ll put my hand up and say that I’ve contracted a mild case of late. I don’t think it’s about not appreciating or relishing what I’ve currently got (cos I do and I definitely do), more getting caught in the trap that always seems to be proceeded by the words ‘I wonder?’
I wonder if we should have tried to buy a house before having a baby? I wonder if I should have started blogging before I fell pregnant and when I had the time to devote hours and hours to developing something that I love? I wonder if I should have made the decision years ago to study nutrition and done it while I was footloose and fancy free? Yep, those are the ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’s’ percolating around in my head at the moment.
The thing is however, this kind of thinking is not exactly productive. I’d even go so far as saying it almost sabotages the goodness present in the now. It’s the worst kind affirmation. One that’s devoid of any form of action as it’s positioned squarely in the past. I can’t change any of the things that I wonder about, those decisions were made in the long ago and placed my life, and those around me, on the course we’re now following. Yes, I COULD have done that but I didn’t. Perhaps I SHOULD have made that decision but it didn’t happen. Maybe I WOULD have done XYZ if I knew what I know now but I only know that now, with the power of hindsight.
Accepting that there is a million things we ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’ done had we known better is part of human nature. I used to reflect, sometimes relentlessly, on those first, hazy few weeks as a new mum. I found it so hard, so anxiety provoking, so almost overwhelming at times that I often wondered if I should have asked for help sooner, if I should have put my hand up and said that something wasn’t quite right. But I didn’t and reliving the whole situation wasn’t doing me any good whatsoever. Engaging with that kind of discourse, allowing it to whisper what could have been into my ear was annoying at best and completely destructive at worst.
So I stopped. I stopped wondering. I started accepting that things were a bit crap and that they were for quite awhile BUT that was then. This is now. I’ve certainly dwelled in ‘CSW’ town a bit this past month. And probably allowed myself to wander off there a little too frequently. So i’m taking Carrie’s advice, buckling up and moving onwards and upwards. I can’t (and don’t need to) change what never was but I can shape what will be, and that’s where I want to focus my energy and attention.
My strategies for kicking the coulda, shoulda, woulda to the curb
– Learning (slowly) to accept that I’ve done ok.. and reminding myself of that fact daily.
– Meditation! Particularly mindfulness meditation that teaches you to be in the present.
– Using my gratitude journal to be thankful for the little things that make life so sweet.
I’d love to know.. Have YOU ever suffered from the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s’? How do you work your way through them?
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