Turn rumination into acceptance. Upgrade your perfectionistic “shoulda, coulda, woulda” mantra with the word “buddha.” The word “buddha” means “awakened, enlightened” in Pali. Use this term in its lower-case connotation as a symbol of acceptance and appreciation of the natural perfection of what is.
When you find yourself ruminating on some past imperfection, toss in a little bit of “buddha” into your self-talk. Recognize that whatever you did, you did your best. And even if your best was not enough for others, it is enough for you. What else could’ve you done, be better than you were at that moment in time?! Wake up to the impossibility of that! After all, to be better than you are (at a given moment of time) is to be different from how you are (at a given moment of time). But you were what you were. How could’ve you been better than you were when you were what you were?! Of course, you couldn’t've! To think that you could’ve been the you that you were and a better (i.e. different) you at the same time … is just nonsense.
So rest your mind: “Shoulda, coulda, woulda, buddha.” End of story.
Adapted from Present Pefect: a Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need to Control (New Harbinger, Somov, 2010)
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Last reviewed: 6 Sep 2012