What would you go back and change?

August 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Posted in Experiences, Family, History, Mental Health, Philosophy | 9 Comments
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My husband and I were talking today about our youth and about the choices we wished we had made then. We wondered what we would do if we were allowed to go back and change some of those decisions.

You often hear people say, when speaking about their younger selves, “Oh, if only I’d known then what I know now!” Or “I wish I’d done things differently then.”

It is interesting to speculate – since we cannot go back in time, that’s all we can do – on which deed, word, relationship or other thing we would change?

Mostly, we do not realise at the time what importance a seemingly minor choice can have for our whole future. If we knew that our choice led to unhappy consequences, would we change it? And if we knew that, then we would also know what other, happier consequences resulted. Would we be prepared to negate those happier consequences in order to avoid the others?

I can take an instance from my own life where I used to wish I made a different choice.

In 1968, I went ice-skating with another student at my college. It was the first time we went out together. He broke his ankle at the rink. Feeling sorry for him, I visited, to see how he was. I was not smitten with him but, six months later, we married. I knew it was a mistake at the time, but marriage was expected of a girl then and I was a good Catholic girl who had to pay the price for the sin we had committed.

Our marriage had its good times, but was not a generally happy one. I often suffered from serious depression. We fought a lot. We lasted for sixteen years. If I’d known how it was to turn out, would I have changed my earlier actions if I could? At what point would I change my choice – going ice-skating, visiting him, not ‘doing it’ instead, pulling out of the wedding? Any of them would mean my life could have been far different.

If I went back in time unaware of the future, I would still be the person I was then. I would therefore probably make the same decisions I did then.

If I went back in time knowing at least this one future, then I would have to deny the chance of everything in that future happening. So, that adds in quite a few complications – five of them being our sons.

Would I be willing to not have had them, and to know that? Would I deny them and their children an existence in return for an unknown future that may be better, similar, worse, or even non-existent? I love my sons and my grandchildren, and I could never do that.

I would not be the person I am now either; someone quite happy with life. Someone who has grown wiser through the adversities and pain she has suffered. Someone with a second, wonderful husband and a family I am proud of. Someone who is alive, and able to write such a philosophical blog entry.

No, I would not go back and change anything. I am the sum of my experiences and of my responses to them. I am reasonably content with the person I have become, and I do not want to give up what I have earned. If I need to change things, I can do it now or in the future.

My husband said the same thing about himself.


Would you go back and change something that resulted in your life taking an unwelcome direction?

What would you be willing to give up in the life you have now in order to make that change?


© Linda Visman

27th August 2012


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  1. Such a good post. I agree. I would never go back and change those decisions I made for all the reasons you shared. You said it, ” I am the sum of my experiences and of my responses to them.” That’s exactly how I feel and that’s precisely what life is all about and how it unfolds. Thanks Linda. Missed your posts.

    • Many thanks Don. I have been snowed under with other things, including producing our writing group magazine, but that one is done for another month now.
      It’s funny, I never know what I am going to say, or how I am going to say it, when I first start on one of these philosophical topics. But my subconscious obviously does, because it just flows out. Obviously my years of experience and learning have resulted in at least a little wisdom.
      Thanks for missing my posts too :-).

  2. hi mum, paul here. I really liked this email. when you want to change things does it mean you have regrets about the past?
    the only things I regret are those things which i didn’t do, not listening to myself when i should have. it’s about confidence don’t you think?
    yui wants to say hello. and yui wants to type her name and our names as many times as possible so please allow her.
    yui, yui, yui, mummy, papa, yui, papa, mummyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, yui

    • Hi Paul. Thanks for reading and commenting on this, and glad you liked it.
      I think there are always things you wish you’d done differently, but I also think that you have to live with the outcomes of your decisions – good, bad or indifferent.
      As I say in the blog entry, I wouldn’t change anything that would result in my not having you five :-).
      Glad to see Yui is writing comments too. I hope she’s enjoying her birthday present 🙂 Lots of love to all of you ❤

    • 🙂 very cute.

  3. I was watching an episode of star trek last week… about this very topic. The captain went back in time and was able to make a change in his life. He ended up being a very boring person and only became a junior officer. I know it was fiction, but I think that if we want to change the things that we did then we would not be the people we are now.

    • I agree, Rod. It is better to take what happened and work on the things we want to change now. Thanks for checking in and commenting. 🙂

  4. I wouldn’t change a thing either. I’m lucky to have no major regrets. Thank you for the blog, Linda.

    • That’s great, Debbie, and may it remain that way. 🙂 Thank you for dropping in and commenting.

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