Is Hindsight really 20/20?

So often in life we tell ourselves “oh well, hindsight is 20/20″ and we go on with our day like that is just a fact of life. We tend to question our judgment, always thinking of things we should have said or done that would have gotten the perfect result. Motherhood screams this phrase to us daily, unfortunately, because so many of us mothers are plagued by our own guilt…even if we know we have done the right thing.

Is hindsight truly 20/20? While I do find myself analyzing my choices on a nightly basis wondering if the day’s events went just the way I had hoped and how I could have done things differently, I am getting weary of always thinking I should have done things differently. What kind of life is that to always question yourself and feel guilty over your choices? While it is important to evaluate yourself from time to time and tweak areas that are “unrefined”, to put it gently, I am beginning to think that putting hindsight on such a pedestal is a dangerous thing to do.

Having children gives you the chance to have a “do-over” daily and sometimes hourly. The beauty of children is that they are forever adapting and forgiving; the downside is that we have to deal with the same naughty behaviors sometimes over and over again until they, and we, get it right. The problem with hindsight is that we lay in bed at the end of a rough day and think of all the things we should have done or said and how we will do it so much better next time; the ole “foresight is 20/20” issue now. We plan for how it will unfold next time and the script we will follow. Then, the same issue happens but circumstances are different and our script no longer applies.

Of course, there are lessons we all learn throughout life that help us better to cope and handle difficult situations. But those circumstances certainly should not have gone any other way; otherwise the life lessons wouldn’t have been learned.  Of course, repeating unhealthy or unproductive behaviors is for the self-un-aware and we, certainly, are not those people, we adapt to life’s curve balls.  So for the self-aware person who is learning and always adapting, neither hindsight nor foresight are any clearer than the present moment.

I am as guilty as any for feeling remorseful over things I say and do, or wishing I had better expressed myself, but I am beginning to believe that I have finally truly learned the most valuable lessons that apply to all situations: “think before you speak/write”, “treat others the way you want to be treated” and “admit when you’ve made a mistake and apologize when appropriate.”

These lessons are the ones our mothers taught us and the very same that we teach our own children. When we follow these general rules in our life, hindsight and foresight are no clearer than the present moment. And any time something does not go swimmingly, we will know that there is a valuable lesson just waiting for us at the end.

2 thoughts on “Is Hindsight really 20/20?

  1. A mother once shared with us when asked how can she be ever so persistent and patient when dealing with children – her answer was “I am not only setting good example just for my children but also my future grandchildren”: (her youngest is aged 2)

  2. This is SO insightful! You are so right…there’s no reason to keep re-hashing things in a guilt-inducing way. If we just evaluate, learn, and move forward, we are growing and that is a valuable thing. The minute we stop we are done! And I’m not ready to be done 🙂

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