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  • Writer's picture@franciscojtovar


Photo courtesy of @felipepelaquim

"Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about the path not taken? "

Repetitive compulsion, as named by Sigmund Freud, is a fascinating phenomenon that dwells within the depths of our unconscious mind. It is the driving force behind our desire to revisit and modify painful moments from our past, hoping to rewrite the narratives and evade the pain they once brought upon us. We have all found ourselves traveling down the winding boulevard of "Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda," pondering the endless possibilities of how our lives could have unfolded differently if only we had made different choices.

The human mind is a complex labyrinth of memories, emotions, and desires. Throughout our lives, we accumulate a tapestry of experiences, some of which leave a profound impact on us. These moments, particularly the ones steeped in regret, become imprinted in our psyche, often haunting us as we navigate the present.

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about the path not taken? Perhaps you envisioned a scenario where you mustered the courage to ask that person out or seized a business opportunity that could have changed the course of your life. Maybe you longed to reverse a decision that led you into a dangerous association or regretted the choices that now populate the long list of "what ifs." These mental excursions into the realm of alternative outcomes are part of our subconscious quest for closure and a yearning to escape the emotional burdens we carry.

Freud believed that our repetitive compulsion arises from the unconscious mind's need to protect us from unresolved conflicts and unhealed wounds. It is a mechanism that aims to provide us with a sense of mastery over past traumas or regrets. By reimagining these moments, we seek solace in the belief that we can alter our history, rewriting the painful chapters to bring about a more favorable outcome.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge the inherent limitations of this compulsion. While it can serve as a source of temporary relief and imaginative exploration, it cannot rewrite the past or alter the realities of our lives. The "Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda" boulevard is an enticing but treacherous path, one that can trap us in a perpetual cycle of regret and longing if we allow it to consume us.

Instead of dwelling solely on what could have been, we must strive for self-compassion and acceptance. Recognizing that we made the best decisions we could at the time, given our circumstances and knowledge, is essential for personal growth. Our past experiences, including the painful ones, shape us into the individuals we are today, offering valuable lessons and opportunities for reflection.

While it is natural to contemplate the roads not taken, it is equally important to redirect our energy towards the present and the future. We can harness the wisdom gained from our past experiences to inform our decision-making in the present moment, guiding us toward a more fulfilling and authentic life. Embracing the concept of "what is" rather than "what could have been" allows us to focus on the opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead.

The allure of the "Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda" boulevard is undeniable, but we must approach it with caution. While reflection and introspection are valuable tools for personal growth, it is essential to strike a balance between learning from the past and embracing the present. By doing so, we can cultivate a future that is enriched by the lessons learned from our past, while freeing ourselves from the chains of regret and longing.


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