Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Time Travel Paradox

Whenever I feel regret, I consider the time travel paradox. I'm reminded of my favorite Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever" in which Spock and Kirk travel back to the great depression after McCoy has unwittingly changed history. The "Terminator" films also share this theme in which the Terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor who leads the fight against the machines.

In short, if we go back and change one thing in our histories, all other events that follow must invariably change as well. Although the physics may be arguable, logically, if I didn't,among other things, marry, divorce and move around as I have, I wouldn't have my wonderful child, sweetheart and work.

My clients know this immediately when they say they regret their marriages...but I wouldn't give up Jane, Dick or Spot for anything, they say. How true.

So how do you get rid of the regrets? It's similar to forgiveness which has been widely studied (see Seligman's book "Authentic Happiness" about which I am lately on a kick). The process I suggest is to consider the event in question (a relationship, a decision, etc). Think about the feelings, positive and negative. Consider the reasons you made the choice. There were probably a lot of good reasons. There were probably also a lot of things you didn't know (a la, if I knew then what I know now...). Work toward forgiving yourself because you need to give this gift to yourself in order to move on and be happy. Practice, practice, practice.

For inspiration try: Everyday is a Winding Road - Sheryl Crow or Good Riddance - Green Day

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