One of the thing that has helped me improve my actions in the present and hopefully the future is gaining perspective from my past actions and choices. The act of learning from my past has helped me to be sane and composed in stressful situations where the chances of me messing up were high.
The small act of learning from your past sounds very simple, yet it has the most significant impact on your life.
We all have something in our past that we regret or wish we should have done differently. While we cannot change what happened in the past and how we behaved, we can surely learn from our actions to make sure that we act in a way that we would be proud of in the future.
The three questions that make all the difference
To learn from our past, we need to have a strategic approach. The one strategy that has worked for me almost every time is asking just three questions. These three questions are straightforward, but as I have always believed and you should too, the simple things in life have the most significant impact.
These three questions will help you deconstruct the situations in your past and boil it down to the most impactful lessons that you can use to make better decisions.
Does it matter now?
Asking yourself this question will help you gain a better perspective into what matters to you and most importantly what doesn’t! I know you might have many experiences in the past where you were stressed out and did things under pressure that you regret today.
But when you ask yourself whether those situations matter to you today, you will learn that most things that make us stressful today will not matter in the future. So, why should we waste our time and energy reacting to these kinds of situations?
This question will help you categorize people and situations. Now, if you ever encounter people or situations that fall into this category, you know that you can be calm and be thoughtful of your responses.
You will be surprised how this one question can change your perception of difficult situations. You will start responding better, learn to remain calm under pressure and make better decisions.
Why did you do it?
Knowing and understanding your intentions behind your actions will lead you to gain a deeper understanding of your behavior. Also, you will also learn whether you are reactive or proactive while dealing with different situations.
Most people are reactive by nature, and their actions are driven by how they feel in the moment. These actions are usually based on little to no facts at all. People who are reactive, act based on emotions.
The reactive behavior is something that most people regret and wish that they should have been more composed and thoughtful instead.
Just by asking yourself why did you do what you did and why you behaved in a particular way will help you change yourself and the way you handle situations. It will make you a better version of yourself and the people who know you will notice the evolution in your behavior.
What could you have done differently?
Usually, the things we regret are accompanied by the ways we could have done those things differently. It is a natural response. Most people fail to understand and learn from this natural response. They dwell in the past rather than learning the lessons needed to avoid another regrettable moment.
When you know what you could have done differently, you can make sure that you actually do it differently in a similar situation in the present.
Also, asking this question allows you to have a different perspective and having multiple perspectives is always better.
Whenever you regret a situation in the past or get out of a difficult situation, take some time to reflect and ask yourself these three questions. Trust me, the results will be worth it, and once you learn how powerful this method is, you will never find yourself making regrettable choices again.