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Hindsight – A rod for our backs or a tool for growth?

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut

The current situation has paved way for reflection. Getting to know oneself from a different perspective. With this can come a complex set of emotions, but amidst that is an open window streaming rays of clarity.

As a creative somewhat striving for perfection, hindsight can have a powerful effect in a positive or negative way.

Pursuing a passion from the heart involves a degree of vulnerability. Vulnerability in itself gives us the ability to connect deeply and can birth true beauty. At the same time it brings with it the risk of hurt.

Our critical eye/voice is a beautiful strength that helps us create but it can also leave us feeling drained. We may find ourselves renewing our strength with validation from our clients and fellow suppliers. Creating a cycle of inspiration-creativity- validation. Validation from others may not always come, not because we did a bad job, but because like us many others are caught up in their own cycle.

Sometimes without validation, we turn to hindsight.

We pick apart everything we did. We see the minute flaws we think we could have avoided. Our critical voices kick in and the “should haves” come flooding. We start to connect imaginary dots- they must have seen that one thing that was slightly out of place, meaning that the whole thing we created was ugly, meaning that they hated it, meaning I’m rubbish and a fraud.

These thoughts can sometimes paralyze us for a time or drive us to strive further for perfection by learning more. Whilst the later may sound productive, I’ve learned that running on empty and striving for perfection can in many ways be harmful.

An example of Fen’s Creative Output (Photo: Maxeen Kim Photography)

Just like we embrace balance in our creativity, perhaps we can extend that grace to ourselves.

Here are a few points that I am learning:

Whilst you may look back at something, and see the flaws, and perhaps be armed with the knowledge and tools to now do better- stop and realise that with that situation you did your BEST with the environment, knowledge, and tools you had at that time. Yes, you may be able to do better now, but this does not invalidate your best at that time. Celebrate that best, take it in, and let it fill your cup.
Our critical voice can be loud and mean. It may sound like it is trying to hurt us, but in a strange way it is trying to protect us. Often I’ve found that in trying to suppress my critical voice, it shouts louder, like us it wants to be heard. How can we hold both? How can we give both our “positive” and “negative” selves space to breathe?

An example of Fen’s Creative Output (Photo: Maxeen Kim Photography)


Self-care is paramount.

I’ve been told that many times, but never truly understood it. I somehow believed that true strength meant continuously working and trying. I now know that taking a step back, taking a break, in whatever way that may look like for you fills your cup. It gives you the time away that makes learning, processing constructive criticism and creativity on your return more productive

Hindsight may sometimes leave us buried under the weight of should haves, would haves and could haves. It may also give room to self-validation, self-kindness and growth through them.
This is by no means black and white and can involve layers of emotions and triggers. If you struggle with this please don’t suffer in silence. There is help, both from professionals, and from the people around you that love you.

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