Dwelling on how our should-haves and would-haves could have turned out is like bingeing on mental junk food. 

The more we feed our minds with our own perceived shortcomings and screw-ups, fear grows so large as to contaminate our thoughts. So when new chances to change our pattern and move forward emerge, we lack the proper energy and focus. Instead, fear calls the shots; more regret, the result. 

The moment I first met Katie was typical of my pattern. At the time she felt like my answer to the Universe’s dare “Ask and it is given.” But first I needed the nerve to ask her out.

She caught my eye in the lobby of our apartment building, as we opened our mailboxes. I was evolved enough to wing a conversation starter. She laughed and flirted enough as we kept talking to give me hope. 

Alone together in the elevator, she shot me a “what are you waiting for?” look.

The voice in my head was clear: “Want to get a drink tonight?” Go ahead. Ask her. This is your moment. 

If it was, I let it pass as soon as she got off at her floor. The regret was unbearable as soon as the doors closed behind her. 

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What was wrong with me? What was I afraid of? 

Eventually my negative self-talk gave way to my umpteenth “next time will be different” vow. 

I’m bound to see her again, I told myself. Just be ready, be confident. 

But with no sign of Katie for weeks, I grew convinced it was because I dropped the ball so many times before; I didn’t deserve another shot. 

So I all but gave up my constant Katie Watch when she spotted me first at the supermarket. Fittingly, we were in the frozen foods aisle because I just stood there like a dope; her warm hello caught me off guard. 

I stared into space down at the contents of her cart. She got defensive as if I was silently judging her for not eating healthy enough. Whatever fleeting interest on her part was gone.

Maybe I could have saved the situation. But I was convinced the window of opportunity had hopelessly shut. 

The last time our paths crossed was on the day I moved out, in the elevator. We rode in silence as I pictured my imaginary cute new neighbor at my next home. 

“Next time will be different … ” I vowed.

Of course it was not.

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Countless more broken vows in all aspects of life followed. Each time, I felt lousy. Each time, my instinct was to bottle my lousy feelings back up. If I wanted to do better, I needed to feel better, or so I thought. 

I recently put myself on a mental junk food diet. Whenever I’m  tempted to open another bottomless bag of regret, I choose to turn the moment into a new opportunity for self-forgiveness. 

When an image of failure is stuck in my head, I reframe it as a mere reminder of my awareness in a specific moments in the past, rather than a reflection of my self-worth. Next I release my fear that I lack any needed ingredient to cook up successful outcomes going forward.

The reality is each of us is born complete, connected to each other and our Source. We are not here to waste our lives waiting around for random make-or-break moments to show up and then pressuring ourselves to ace every one.

When we live in the awareness that nothing is missing, missed chances become illusions. Instead, each and every moment contains a new invitation to fully step into experiencing our greatest selves.

“Ask and it is given” is not a do-or-die test; it is an eternal promise. Everything is already given to us. We receive our answer not when we move without fear, but when we choose to move in spite of it.

“Go ahead. I dare you,” — Love, The Universe

Guide to Inspired Life