What could I have done? What should I have done? Had I known I would have…
Coulda…shoulda…woulda… They all lead down the same path to no where good. Often I speak to many people, parents, survivors, etc that are struggling with their own healing process or the desire to help someone they love heal. I hear these questions and statement and my reply is always the same.
Here are the honest answers:
“What could I have done?” – Typically when this is asked there is a probable ‘Well you could have…’ response which is why this question goes no where good because the person asking it doesn’t want to own up to the simple fact that they didn’t. The only way to somewhere good with this is to say, “I could have…, but I didn’t, and I’m sorry.”
“What should I have done?” – Often this is used when the person feels an overwhelming amount of responsibility which is no good because it’ll fester and feeds guilt and shame. Really, the way to good is accepting the fact of the situation honestly, “I didn’t know and I’m sorry.”
“Had I known I would have…” – Simple. You didn’t know so you couldn’t have. The way to good is by recognizing what you do know now and respond.
I have my own ‘coulda’s, shoulda’s and woulda’s’ scattered in my past and sometimes present actions and when I find myself beginning to say one or the other I do my best (let me repeat that…I do my best, but sometimes I fail,) to shut them down and go with the ‘good’ response. When it can be done successfully it saves a lot of anguish, drama and hurt on everyone’s behalf.
Are you suffering the ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda’s’? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Redirect the path and focus on the good response. You’ll feel much better when you do.