Regrets about not doing the work sooner

I’ve been doing really good work toward emotional adulthood for about a year and a half now, including (majorly) through your podcast and now this program.

I am super happy and proud and amazed at the progress I’m making, yet part of me keeps thinking I’ve “wasted” a lot of time not managing my own thoughts. I think back on past memories of my younger self (I am 37 now), remember how complicated things were in my head then, and feel regretful and sad that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy them.

It’s fruitless and paradoxical. I realize 37 is not very old, that I should focus on moving forward, and the present is all we have anyway, but this pesky thought keeps hovering.

This is the model I’ve come up with:

C: I started working on my emotional health in my mid-thirties.
T: I should have done this much sooner, and would have enjoyed my twenties and early thirties so much more. Those precious years are gone forever and I’ve wasted them not being fully present.
F: Regretful, nostalgic, sad to the point of tears.
A: Mulling over the past (can this be considered an action?)
R: Held back in my progress now? (Not sure.)

I’m struggling to find a better “T” line. I find I’m either comparing down (“Some people aren’t doing this work at my age, or ever will.”) which I don’t like to do, or coming up with things that feel pep-talky and don’t really resonate.

Of course, as I type this I think of this new one that feels more genuine:
“I needed to struggle until my mid-thirties to truly understand the work.”

But I also understand these past struggles only exist in the story I tell myself about them (but I remember how confused I was!), and you’ve talked about changing the past to create your own new reality (wording probably not accurate). I’m wondering if/how it applies here.

Any thoughts or suggestions? Thank you!