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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the butterfly effect as of late. Thanks to a video on YouTube from Top5s that I stumbled across, the subject has been on my mind quite a bit. I find myself wondering what things would have been like in my life if I could change just one simple decision. Unfortunately, there is no absolute way to know if the past decision would have been for the better.
You Are a Culmination of Experiences
Every decision made in life shapes who you are today. Even something as small as stopping by for a cup of coffee at 7-11 can cause a ripple effect throughout your future. Perhaps you met the love of your life standing in line at the register. Maybe you decide to buy a winning Powerball lottery ticket. So many variables can happen, and any one of them can be positive or negative.
I find myself going back to the day that I met my ex when I was 16. A friend of mine wanted to date my neighbor’s babysitter, and I thought she was cute myself. What if I would have been the one to back down and let my friend date her instead of being competitive? After all, she was a few years older than I. Sure, my past would unfold much differently than it did. However, that doesn’t mean it would have been for the better.
What if I met someone after my ex who was simply wonderful? What if five years later we were driving home from her parent’s house after a Christmas party and the car slid off the road killing us both? While this may be the extreme scenario, it’s still one of an endless number of possibilities.
Behaviors and Mannerisms
The person you are today is a sum of your experiences. Although some of your behaviors and mannerisms may never change at the core, a lot of them make up who you are. For instance, I have a very dim view about relationships because of my past failures. I am untrusting and shield my heart more often than I should because of a single individual.
Everyone has a few behaviors and mannerisms they wish they could shake. I would love to be less of a procrastinator. Perhaps you wish to quit smoking cigarettes. Maybe you’re an alcoholic or abuse drugs on a regular basis. But what of the positive mannerisms that are part of your past?
I tend to go all-out when I can during birthdays and holidays. I am driven to try to make people happy. Like any other aspect in life, this too was derived from my past. I love my daughters without reservation, who would not exist if I wouldn’t have been with my ex when I was 16.
While it may be fun to theorize about the differences, most people will focus on the positive changes that may happen. Dreaming of a better life fills the thoughts and prayers of millions. But have you ever thought about the negative aspects that could happen as well?
Work and Careers
Sometimes I get upset at myself when I think about all of the opportunities I let slip. From joining the FBI to being a graphic designer at Cabella’s, my life could have been so much different than it is today. For one thing, I highly doubt I would have been a writer if I was to follow my first serious career path of criminal investigation.
As a result, I wouldn’t have created more than 5,000 pieces of content for clients. I highly doubt I would have been a blogger. Which means you wouldn’t be reading this post right now. So, in an indirect way, I am also shaping your future because I decided to be with my ex instead of following my CI path at the IRS when I was 20.
I am sure that I would have made far more money after 20 years in the FBI. But that doesn’t mean it would have been a better choice. In one alternate past, I may have been killed by a suspect. So, I can also say that not joining saved my life.
The point I am trying to make is that it’s OK to fantasize about how things could have been if you chose a different path. Just don’t dwell too much on it because there is nothing to say that it all would have been good.
Love and Relationships
Every serious relationship you have ever been in has made an impact on your life. You learned various things about people which annoy you, which then shapes the type of person you’re looking for. Coincidentally, the type of person you’re looking for is also a product of the behaviors and mannerisms you developed over the span of your life.
For me, I am one broken individual in multitudes of ways. However, I wouldn’t have my children whom I adore. And that is perhaps my biggest fear of changing anything in my past.
When you lose love, it can feel devastating. You can feel like you’re about to die inside. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to drop dead from the experience. In fact, you may just find a better lifestyle down the road. On the other hand, you may also find yourself in a completely different city 1200 miles from your family with a “girlfriend” who spends more time with her guy friend than she does with you while asking you to be exclusive to her when you only see her once a week.
Eventually, your past will help you find that one person that you simply click with. All of your past loves give you experience into the person that you don’t want to be with. It shapes what you are looking for in a mate and guides you to find the so-called, “perfect match.” That may even be someone from your past who has shaped his or her own life through experiences without you.
I know that someday I will find that one person who makes me feel like I belong. And it was all of my past relationships that have positioned me into that place like pieces on a chess board. While sometimes I wish I never met my ex when I was 16, she will have helped push me towards the one that I will spend my life with…whom ever that will be.
Embrace Who You Are
If given the opportunity to change one decision in my past, I would be tempted to pick one of the more major points in my life. Then again, I would have missed pivotal moments that shaped the positive aspects. Who’s to say that the change would be a positive one in the first place? Besides, how you view life is all about perspective.
Don’t dwell on the negative aspects of life in your current situation. The future is always in motion, and every decision you make today will shape how tomorrow develops. Make your decisions based on past experiences to guide you.