The Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex

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Yesterday I was talking to a good friend and she was sharing how she feels guilty about choices she’s made in the past and how she believes those choices affected her children. After doing some inner work with her it got me thinking about the choices I’ve made that I feel guilty about…still. I work on my mindset everyday, but there are blocks that I’m not aware of until, well, I become aware of them, like the conversation with my friend.

Just like anyone else with a past, I have past experiences that still affect me today.  Things I wish didn’t happen or the different decisions I could’ve made. So of course I feel guilty, angry and resentful of the way my choices affected those around me including my daughter.

We always make the best possible choice for us at the time. No questions about it. This I know in my core is true. We never make a deliberate bad choice because we think the consequences would be fun, no we make the best choice at the time based on where we’re at and what we know. So this bring me to, what I call, the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex.

Sure after time goes by we rethink or relive an experience or episode in our life and begin regretting our choice, feel guilty about how it affected everyone involved (directly and indirectly) and angry that we made that choice to begin with. But here’s the thing, today you’re feeling the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex because you know better now! If you knew then what you know now, you woulda made a different choice, right? So how do we shift away from the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex? We shift how we perceive that experience. Obviously the experience has taught us, if it didn’t we wouldn’t know now what we didn’t know then. So why beat ourselves up over something we actually grew from?

Oftentimes a little shift in how we perceive our experience(s) is exactly what’s needed to view it through another lens. When we focus on what’s wrong, we tend to perpetuate more of the same negative thinking and the crazy cycle begins. What we could do is see how we can find what’s right about the situation, what we’ve learned, how our lives have changed for the better, look for the hidden lesson. When we can see through the eyes of opportunity, our learning will afford us the wisdom to move around the obstacle.

One of the biggest challenges of the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex is being stuck in a negative mindset, the innate desire to change past choices. We all know we can’t change the past, but we can change the way we perceive it and change the way we respond to future similar events.

Yes this takes practice, it takes creating a new mindset habit, but it’s not impossible or even as hard as you think!

A good place to start is to figure out what kind of “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex” you are experiencing. Are you deer-in-headlights and afraid to make choices because you don’t trust your judgement? Or sinking-in-quicksand, fearful you’re not good enough to make the right choices without regret? It’s important to get clear on whether you’re waiting for your inner guidance to kick back in, or if you’re the kind of stuck that you can’t get out of alone. Oftentimes you just need to shift your trajectory a bit—move your body or light the proverbial fire under yourself. But other times your stuckness requires a helping hand.

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Whenever you find yourself experiencing the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex, try these steps to help you make the leap.

Get Honest With Yourself.

Many people sabotage their own process, consciously or unconsciously, as a result of deep-seated fears and limiting beliefs. Get honest with yourself about how you perceive the experience, what emotions did you attach to it. A lot of us seem to be frozen in the headlights, paralyzed by uncertainty, fear of failure, and lack of trust. Those who face their fear and get unstuck can transmute those attachments and seize the advantage of that experience. See that experience as an opportunity to grow, learn and transcend.

Decrease Uncertainty.

Doubts about the uncertain obstacles along the way, obscures your path. We all learn from mistakes. You now know what you didn’t know before. Life is a series of experiences and we’ll never know the outcome or purpose until we experience them. So rather than wait until you can clearly see the entire route, focus on getting to the next bend. Identify your progress and illuminating the best way forward. As you proceed down the path, you can stop, change direction, or continue on the same trajectory, depending on what you learn en route.

Cultivate the Healing Power of Gratitude.

Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use to expand our happiness, create loving  relationships, and even improve our health. Gratitude allows us to shift our perspective from the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex. It is a fullness of heart that moves us from limitation and fear to expansion and love. When we’re appreciating something, our ego moves out of the way and we connect with our soul, this helps us let go of what is over and done, what we have no control over and reminds us of what we’ve gained from the experience. When we consciously focus on gratitude, we experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t. Gratitude brings our attention into the present, which is the only place where miracles can unfold! The deeper our appreciation, the more we see with the eyes of the soul and the more our life flows in harmony with the creative power of the universe.

Life’s twists, turns, and demands can weaken our resolve, and in those moments we convince ourselves that things shouldn’t be so challenging. At least that’s our reasoning for taking the path of least resistance. Before we know it, the easy way becomes a habit. You are here to provide the world with your unique skills, gifts and talents, and sometimes to remember who we truly are, we need to experience some uncomfortable experiences. Not because we’re not good enough, it’s to remind us of how powerful and gifted we are.

The Universe works in unconventional ways, trust the process, let go of those limiting beliefs that keep us stuck in the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Complex and give yourself permission to embrace the imperfect, quirky, unique being you truly are. After all, you’ve survived 100% of your worst days, you got this!

Love & light,



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