What if you made a life altering change that affected everything and everyone in your life and then months or years later you start to doubt that monumental decision?  Can you find a way back or has too much happened to recapture all or even just a part of the way of life you once thought you didn’t want anymore?

How do you determine if the longing to return to your previous lifestyle, ex-relationship, past job, or lost friendship is not just guilt or loneliness and depression, or if it’s a real need to bring back something or someone vitally important to you that has been missing since choosing a new direction for your life?

Facing the realization that you might have made an immense mistake can leave you in a state of confusion, sadness and fear.  What if you try to reclaim what you lost, were forced to leave, or walked away from only to find you should have left things as they are now, because you’ve also brought back all the old hurts, resentments and insecurities that caused you to make the change in the first place?  What has happened to make you want to even reconsider going back to a place where you felt you weren’t happy or fulfilled?  Has the death of a loved one or loss of something you cherished caused you to start missing or wondering about people or places that are no longer a part of your life?  Maybe something really wonderful has happened recently and you are wishing you could celebrate this happy time with an old friend or ex-lover who once shared every dream, every desire and every aspect of your life with you.

If you do reconcile with the ex-boyfriend or girlfriend you broke up with because you thought there was no future with them, do you both want it badly enough to do whatever it takes to make it work out the second time around?  Have you adjusted your attitude so that the town you thought you couldn’t wait to leave would be a more pleasant place to live if you moved back?  What about the old friend, maybe once your closest friend, that you had a horrible falling out with years ago?  Can all the bitterness be forgotten and not interfere with an attempt to renew the friendship? Perhaps the company you thought was a horrible place to work has a new opening, and you realize it wasn’t the worse place you’ve ever worked, after all. In fact, it was much better than the place you work at now.  If you were to be rehired would you be able to go back to work there without letting the old aggravations influence the way you do your job like you did when you were employed there before?

What if it was an error in judgment or major slip-up on your end that caused your life to go down a different path than you had originally chosen?  Is it remorse or a sense of obligation that has you wishing you could find a way to make amends or do you sincerely want another chance to set things right and return to the way things were before you messed up?  Are you unable to find joy or contentment in the life you live now because you constantly dwell in the past and fantasize about how things might have turned out if you hadn’t made that huge mistake?

There are just so many issues to be addressed when trying to reassess why you made a drastic change in your life.  Sometimes returning to somewhere, something or someone from your past is a comforting thought.  You already know what to expect, and time has probably softened the bad memories, so now you are able to focus on the good memories. Or, your life is worse now than it was before you made the decision to go a different route.  I think it’s only human nature to hope the problems that existed before will somehow be resolved and the next time will be perfect, but is it completely unrealistic?

Places don’t usually change much, but we are capable of making positive changes within ourselves if we are willing to face our inner fears and doubts, and maybe that is enough to make all the difference if you decide to rethink a past decision you feel differently about now.  But, we cannot change other people or circumstances that are out of our control, so we have to be willing to make compromises we might not have been willing to make before, or face the consequences of having things fail all over again.  Will this loss be even harder to cope with now?  If you regret a former decision badly enough I believe you will find the strength to take a courageous step towards reclaiming the part of your past you miss so much, which also means taking a step backwards in some ways. Hopefully, this next time you will be armed with new determination, wisdom and confidence to confront and overcome the issues that caused those changes to occur in the first place.  Use the negativity in your past to build a strong foundation for a positive new beginning.  More importantly, if it doesn’t turn out as you are hoping it will, you must be able to walk away a second time knowing you have done all that you are capable of doing.  You have to trust enough in yourself to let go of the regrets this time, to not look back again, and not to be too hard on yourself, because obviously there really were legitimate reasons you made that radical change in the first place.  You can only move forward at this point. 

What do you think?  Can you go back to a place or to a person you once thought you needed to get away from and can you make amends for your own past mistakes that will make a real difference in your future happiness and peace of mind?  Or, is revisiting the past only a pathway to renewed heartbreak and disappointment?

(I will be doing a series of blog posts about relationships, feelings and life in general as research and background material for my new book, A WOMAN MY AGE.  I look forward to hearing your opinions and comments on the subjects I will be discussing here.  Thank you.)

Photo credit: Micha Rainer Pali

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