The desire to re-visit a decision, a choice, and sometimes a specific age or time in life is a common thought.  Wishing for a “do-over could head you in a new direction.  It may be a simple time of reflection when facing another big decision; and it can also be a time of re-surfacing regret for historic choices that you now label as bad or big mistakes. Regardless, the thoughts typically come when facing crossroads — big or small — or simply float into your awareness when feeling even mildly depressed or anxious.

    The “Road Not Taken” is a typical theme for clients in my office. The reflections can cause depression, anxiety, and even a “frozen state” — where the feeling is fear about the wrong choice and a consequent failure to move in any direction.

    I think it’s possible to “jiggle” that stuck place and use the “do over wish” as a positive force for finding a new, healthy goal or an entirely new life direction. It does however take some organized reflection, some life review, and some good questions….and you do need to write about what’s going on.

    Try using this concept of a “life line” as a framework for self examination around next steps.  The starting place is looking backwards…then moving forward to “now.” Use a legal pad or large notebook, and record, in the left hand margin, your date of birth.  Now visually, begin to draw a line….with ups and downs to represent how you recall feeling at the time….of what you regard as major directions, shifts, movements, events, changes as you have moved through your life. Put ages/dates on the line. Record events –that have meaning for you– like first day of school; my brother was born; college decision; first job; a major geographical move; on and on, up to the present and the crossroad or big decision you are currently facing.

    Now reflect on the peaks and valleys on your life line. How did you make your choices/decisions when you were 12 or 18 or 25 or 30? Or 50? And as you reflect, do you regard your decisions with pleasure or regret? Do you see a pattern? Do you see WHAT and possibly WHO influenced your thinking and decision making? Do you see fearful or urgent choices? Pleasurable and successful ones? Your OWN decisions or pressure from others?

    Again you are looking at patterns and at your own individual process, historically, for making hard or challenging choices. If you see times of regret, write about the feelings. Perhaps you were once influenced in a way you DO NOT WANT TO REPEAT.  That’s often the reason you are thinking about a “do over” so pay attention. What do you want to do differently? You can’t change the past and you CAN learn from it in order to go forward.  Examine your feelings, your energy and the details of life around the wish for the do over…..that helps to correct mistakes in thinking for NOW.

    Next, WHAT are your choices for next steps? How do you feel about each possible option? Does this need to be your own decision? Do you need to talk or consult with someone? Do you have all the information you need to head in a new direction?  Do you feel “in charge” of the decision/the choices — for any kind of change you are seeking — small or large?

    And finally, keep writing about choices, options, feelings.  And always, always reach out, talk to someone when you need a lot of input or simply a friendly ear.  As always, you can ask me questions.  You deserve to feel better…and you deserve to feel “in charge of your life.”