Stephen Covey suggests you “begin with the end in mind.” Focusing on “the end” of your life might seem morbid, but it’s actually a way to quickly get to your true priorities.
On one of the Cutting Edge calls (1/11/12), Dr. Alex Loyd suggested an exercise to help you do this. Imagine you were just told that you’d be dead in 3 months, but in those 3 months you would keep your health. What would you do differently starting now? (The call was called “How to Instantly Know What You Believe You Should Do Right Now.” If you’ve signed up for free membership on this site you can get access to the recordings.)
I just happened to read a blog post from a nurse who reported the top 5 regrets people have on their deathbed the same day I heard Dr. Loyd’s message. These 5 regrets, reported by a palliative care nurse named Bonnie Ware who worked with patients sent home to die, could be a good place to start to focus on top priorities. Here are the top 5 regrets of people on their deathbeds:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
This was the most common regret of all, Bonnie says. “When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
This came from every male patient that Bonnie nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but since most were from an older generation, many had not been breadwinners. All of the men Bonnie nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others,” Bonnie writes. “They settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.” Her experience underscores what Dr. Loyd says in The Healing Code: unforgiveness is at the root of many, if not most, illnesses.
I agree with what Bonnie says next: “We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.”
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away.That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
This is a surprisingly common one, Bonnie says. ” Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.”
Living so that you won’t have these 5 regrets, or any others, could be a good place to start. And if you need any help healing heart issues so you won’t have to live by other people’s expectations, so you can repair relationships, express your feelings or just feel happier and more at peace, get in touch with me for some coaching.
Diane Eble is a Certified Healing Codes Coach-Practitioner and worked with Dr. Alex Loyd on the editing and publishing of The Healing Code book. Visit her website at www.HealingCodesCoaching.com for Truth Focus Statements to use when doing Healing Codes.