© 2018 by Clare Vernon FCCA Dip ION FdSc mBANT

  • Clare Vernon

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

Updated: Oct 6, 2018

"I would if I could but I can't so I won't!"

I can clearly recall these words from my childhood; my Mum used to say it like a lovely rhythmic retort when I was being stubborn, I think....at least that's what I seem to recall it meaning to me from back then.

I used to quite like saying it out loud in a really short, sharp, snappy way. However, now I think about it, I'm not sure I really took on board what it meant.

Now that I'm older (and dare I say it, a little wiser), I wonder whether it was actually associated more with my perpetual over-deliberations; "should I do this?'' or "should I have done that?".

I always was a ruminator.

(See what I did with the photo there? :) )

Clearly, it's important to think over important decisions in advance where possible. And sometimes it is just as important to contemplate them once they have been made. But contemplation and rumination are two very different things.

Contemplation suggests deep thinking just as in rumination. But it involves a light sense of deep thinking; a desire to take a gentle overview and to consider the possibilities in a positive way, maybe even meditation.

Rumination however, can really bring you to grind your teeth. And therein lies the difference. Rumination often involves repeatedly revisiting an event, more often than not with a negative outlook on it. Rumination occurs when we repeatedly suggest to ourselves that we took a potentially less than perfect decision or when we keep revisiting disconcerting emotions about that event such as guilt .

And that's where I think it's good to have a phrase or two to hand....

I wonder if that's what my Mum was meaning when she would throw out the "I would if I could but I can't so I won't" at me.

These days, I find myself repeating the mantra "Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda"

It reminds me that if I find myself using the words "should", "would" or "could" too much when I am thinking about some event or decision, then I am probably going to grind my teeth right down before I make any headway.

Far better to look at the situation and say "That was then, this is now - what can I do to make things look different now that the situation is clearer to me?".

Even better, to pat myself on the back, be my own best friend, and say:

"At the time, I made the best and only decision I could have done given the information, knowledge and personal resources I had available to me at the time. If I could have done anything different then, I surely would have done. So stop deliberating on what could have been and deal with the here and now. You're better than this!"

Short, sharp and snappy......"SHOULDA WOULDA COULDA"...