This past Monday, while at the gym and lost in thought about what to write in my first blog, a news headline on one of the TV monitors caught my attention.   Monday Morning Quarterback.   It was an interview with “Broadway Joe” Namath.  For you youngsters, he is a Pro Football Hall of Fame icon, a legendary quarterback who played for the NY Jets.  I was wireless so could not hear the sound and far enough away I could not see the closed-captions.  This absence of information gave me a chance to make up my own story about what was going on.   I said, “That’s it!  This type of issue comes up all the time in coaching, in fact it’s the kind of thing that causes self-doubt, derails our confidence, and causes us to hide or shy away from all kinds of situations.”

I later googled Monday Morning Quarterback.  The first definition that popped up is someone who is always criticizing and saying how he would have done something better or differently after the event has passed. Another definition says a person who, after the event, offers advice or criticism concerning decisions made by others; one who second-guesses.  Let’s talk about the first definition and what occurs when we judge our own actions to be wrong, bad, embarrassing, or even mistakes.

How often do you have regret or remorse over something you’ve said or done?  I am not ashamed to say that I am a recovering remorse-aholic!  Hmm, rehash, rethink, revisit, review, redo? How long do you ruminate about the event?   So many “R” words to describe this repeating cycle!

What about when we rationalize why we did something?  Might we even bounce back and forth, regretting and rationalizing at the same time?  Might we be coming to grips with something that caused us embarrassment or shame and at the same time, trying to decide if we really made a mistake or if our feelings are coming from another place entirely!  Of course!

Well I say, “That’s rubbish!”  What if we could build a habit to release and recover from these types of events much more quickly.   Might we rise above that victim energy faster and move on to other things, that can be much more productive and joyful for us?  The opportunity cost of the time we spend ridiculing ourselves, versus spending that time in ways that serve us better, can be so great.

But wait – isn’t there a lesson to be learned here?   What useful purpose might our remorse or regret serve?  The feelings that lead us to the action of revisiting or rehashing, give us the opportunity to decide what we will do differently next time.  A beautiful thing that serves us well!

If we’ve caused harm to someone, we might, indeed, need to apologize for the role we played in the incident.   There is nothing more cathartic (for you and others involved) than a specific, yet, authentic apology.  The occasions for this should be rare and are not to be made lightly or overused (lest we start to rethink our apology).  Some self-reflection, leading up to and after the apology will likely serve us well.   But be careful:  The most self-critical of us, spend a lot of time trying to focus on our mistake, when often there is nothing different needed at all.  What we did may even have gone completely unnoticed or is dismissed easily by others, yet we beat ourselves up far beyond useful value! What if you could adopt a new thought principle, that there are no mistakes in life, only lessons to be learned?  Might you become a more resilient and relaxed person?

Sometimes, there is a very valid reason we acted or said what we did.  It may be that there is a deeper issue or thought that led us to act or react that way.  It bears paying attention and doing some self-discovery on what was behind this event. This kind of reflection, is usually helpful and productive.

In this story I made up, I imagined that Joe Namath was asked by the anchorperson, “Joe, tell us what went through your mind on the rare occasion you made an incomplete pass and you guys missed the touchdown.”  Joe may have replied like this, “Well, Kristin, the pressure of the game being what it is, I really didn’t have much time to rethink or regret my actions.  The 30 seconds I had before the next play, caused me to move on, psyching myself up for the next critical play.”

What lessons can we learn from this?   How does this show up for you?   Take note next time of how much time do you spend in regret mode?  When was the last time something you did, caused you to get stuck in remorse-rationalizing mode?   What was the actual consequence of what you did or said?  What feelings come up for you?  How did you get past this type of rethinking the last time?

The trick (most of the time) is to do a rapid assessment of how big the blunder, evaluate the quick take away, pledge to do differently, apologize only if necessary and appropriate, and then release and move on.  Move forward and don’t look back!  Imagine the peace and tranquility and the freedom of thought that will replace this destructive self-talk.   This can be your new habit but it takes practice and sometimes you may need a little help to figure it all out!  If you’re in the category of needing help figuring it out, feel free to reach out to me today to see how my coaching may benefit you!

For fear of tainting my imagined blog topic, after I wrote this, I checked it out online with sound this time.   Joe Namath was being interviewed about his recent a book, called All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters.   The book is one where he apparently shares openly about his life – good times and bad, successes, struggles with addiction, lessons learned and changes he’s made.  Might be a good read.  Good for you Broadway Joe!