Me and my brother Nghia was driving down to Houston over the weekend and he asked me the following question: “If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?”
Now that’s a really tough question to answer on the spot.
First of all, it’s based on the assumption that we made plenty of stupid decisions. Decisions we wish we could take back. Decisions that steered us away from what we wanted at that time.
For example, for my nephew’s birthday, I thought it would be a wise decision to cut watermelon while I was drunk and trying to carry a conversation with my cousin Audrey. Half-way through our discussion, I missed the watermelon and instantly cut into something else that colored the knife red. (Now I know why you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery while you’re intoxicated.)
Of course, I am guilty of mistakes during all parts of my life. Who isn’t?
The second assumption is that once we change something significant about our past, something significant about our present should also change.
This kind of thinking puts you in passenger seat of your life, instead of being in the driver’s seat. You are pretty much admitting that you have no power or influence in your life. If your life is so horrible right now, why don’t you change something about it?
Another fallacy in this way of thinking is you may judge that one mistake to be monumental, but in the grand scheme of things it was really insignificant. Therefore by changing something insignificant about your past, you end up with the same present that you’re discontent with.
Here’s a hypothetical scenario. You regret losing one of your past loves. You were jealous and accused them of cheating on you. It destroyed your relationship. And ever day since, you wondered what could have been, if you had done otherwise. So you make that wish. Wishing that jealously would no longer be an issue. And once you open your eyes expecting to be next to your lover again, you aren’t. For some reason, that wasn’t enough. Perhaps jealousy was just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps the relationship was destined to end regardless of how you acted.
Another way a wish could go wrong is if we wished something away that was actually an important aspect of your life.