Ever had a case of the “if onlys”? You know, as in; “If only I’d gotten that job,” “If only that guy/gal hadn’t broken up with me,” “If only I hadn’t been passed over for that promotion,” “If only I’d won the lottery!” “If only I had more talent,” and so on.

Unfortunately, once you get started on your “if onlys” you can keep the list going for days. I certainly have. It’s like binge-watching Netflix. How do you cry “Halt”?!

But here’s the thing: the “if onlys” don’t get you anything. I mean zip, nada, nothing. Not even the satisfaction of “Whew, that was exhausting but now I’m totally caught up on ________(insert name of favorite show).” I take it back. They do get you something. They get you to stay stuck in your past and prevent you from seeing, much less acting on, a desirable future.

What do you think would have happened if Chris Norton, who broke his neck playing football for Luther College, at 18 years of age, had accepted the doctors’ verdict of having only a 3% chance of ever feeling or moving below his neck? What would have happened if Chris had dwelt on all the “if onlys” of his plight? To name but a few: if only I hadn’t played in the game that day. If only I'd chosen to go for basketball or swim team or track instead of football! If only I'd fallen differently on the field. If only I'd just broken my arm or leg instead of my neck. If only I'd been bruised instead of paralyzed!

If Chris had indulged in all those “if onlys” and many more, he would never have done what it took to move his arms and legs again, certainly wouldn’t have managed to walk across the stage five years later to receive his college diploma, nor would his next goal have been of walking seven yards down the aisle to marry his sweetheart. He certainly wouldn’t have become the motivational speaker he is today, nor the founder of the SCI CAN Foundation, dedicated to raising money for specialized hospital and rehab center equipment for others with spinal cord injuries. All this by the age of 25!

Turn your back on your “if onlys.” Leave them where they belong, in the past. What is done, is done, and you can’t undo it. What you can do, however, is look to solutions, resolutions and other possibilities, in your present and in your future, just like Chris Norton. We humans are capable of amazing things once we turn our focus and attention to them. So don’t waste your precious creativity, your resources, your mind, on lamenting your “if onlys.” Face whatever challenges you experience boldly, square on, and conquer them!

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, consultant, popular speaker in the U.S. and abroad, and author of over a dozen best-selling books. Dr. Nelson focuses on how we can all enjoy happy, fulfilling lives while accomplishing great things in love, at home and at work, as we appreciate ourselves, our world and all others. She is the author of “Happy Healthy…Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right” (MindLab Publishing). You Matter. You Count. You Are Important. Visit www.noellenelson.com, https://www.facebook.com/MeetTheAmazings, #MeetTheAmazings, @drnoellenelson