Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Making Up For Lost Time

Depending on the hand you were dealt, you can easily feel like you were robbed of some of the most precious years of your life. 

Perhaps you struggled with crippling depression, a scarring trauma, or you had a disease that rotted away your joints and forced you into a seemingly endless cycle of surgeries and physio therapy. 

While others lived life to the fullest, you lived it piece by piece.

And if you had the luck to recover from your struggles, you probably still experience the misfortune of wondering how things could have been if you had recovered sooner.

That sense of lost time weighs heavy on the mind.

How do you deal with it?

Firstly, by realising that every moment of growth feels bittersweet. It’s great to know you’re improving and getting ahead. But it also hurts to find out how fragile, dumb, unskilled, or self-centered you once were, and how different your life could have looked if you had just found and done the right things earlier.

To mourn over lost opportunities is normal and healthy. As long as you don’t dwell. 

Secondly, you must understand that the sickly, inadequate, or isolated person you once were was still you. That version still matters. Being more identified with the healthy and ambitious rendition of yourself doesn’t change that.

In fact, being denied a ‘normal’ life forced you to discover a special way of living that few people ever get to know. And even if it sucked way more than is fair, you were still living your life in the same way that everyone else was: you were trying to make the best of it.

So don’t be too quick to write off your old experiences as a loss.

Lastly, just because you feel like you’re behind doesn’t mean that you need to do anything crazy to make up for it. 

Professional athletes do a great job to illustrate this.

When a world-class golfer is a few strokes behind, changing their strategy to get more balls in the hole means deviating from the practiced game plan and, thus, taking bigger risks. By trying harder to win, the linksman is more likely to lose.

So what does a professional golf player do instead? They stick to the original strategy and trust that it’s effective enough to secure the win. After all, their competition isn’t going to play a flawless game either.

Life works in a similar way. 

Suppose you feel that you wasted the last 10 years of your life.

Rather than trying to cram a decade’s worth of lost experiences into a few hundred weeks, you want to act as if you didn’t miss out on anything at all and do the things that you know are good.

Don’t rush it. Relish it.

That’s what the most content people are trying to do too. Except you actually have an easier time doing the right stuff, because you know exactly what you missed out on.

The person who followed the ABCs of life might have already reached the end of the alphabet and is in desperate search for another roadmap. 

That’s one headache you don’t have.

The fact that you look at your past with regret means that you clearly see the joys that life can give you. 

Focus on creating and savouring those joyful experiences and you’ll do great.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach