“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” – thoreau
Regret: powerful or power-less??
We often hear: Have no regrets!! Which I’ve been guilty of regurgitating before.
Thinking back on the things I regret though …
I regret the times I tattletaled, all those years eight and under. Many moons later, as a teacher, I loathed those children. Funny. I had somehow thought it would make the them like me best.
I regret almost every time I thought having one more drink was a good idea. You like how I go straight from 3rd grade to drinking? There’s probably a two’r three year transition in there.
I regret at least half the episodes that prompted Gma to address me by my full name. The other half were character building, of course.
I regret the time I told my friend it was only herbal ecstasy. That’s fucked up. Don’t do that. Even if you’re pretty sure she will thank you for it later.
I could go on, but I think you get my point. Most of my regrets seem silly now. I have made peace with those that ate away at me and have seen where others have steered me for the better.
I simply wouldn’t be me if not for all those poor decisions. There was a smattering of good, no doubt. I just so happen to be one of those learners that prefers the hard way. It’s on my I.E.P. even.
I read this perfect article on regret from Martha Beck today that prompted this post actually.
“The past doesn’t exist except as a memory, a mental story, and though past events aren’t changeable, your stories about them are.” – Martha Beck
Drop your personal history. Rewrite your story. You are more than just your story. These are all topics I’ve spoken on and written about extensively. This process changed my life, quite literally. And also transformed the face of my regrets in the process.
I have learned in my own experience and studied several others that, Beck puts it so well, ” … if you decide to reclaim the essence of anything you regret losing, you’ll find it–often sooner than you think, in ways you would never have expected.”
Lost loves, lost passions, lost opportunities. I’m always of the “if it’s meant to be it will be” belief. There are just too many roads to take on this journey to expect just one route to get us there. Trust that even a wrong turn will eventually lead you where you’re ultimately heading, otherwise you’re gonna do a whole lotta backtracking trying to remember from which way you came.
So it’s not necessarily about having no regrets. As with anything, it’s about making the most of them.
“That’s when you can call on regret—not as a burden that you still have to bear but as a motivator that can forcefully remind you not to make choices that will feel awful in retrospect. If you’ve grieved your losses, reclaimed your dreams, and articulated your anger, regret will have made you the right kind of tough-and-tender: dauntless of spirit, soft of heart, convinced by experience that nothing based on fear—but everything based on love—is worth doing. Living this way doesn’t guarantee an easy life; in fact, it will probably take you on a wondrously wild ride. But I promise, you won’t regret it.” -Beck
I don’t know about you, but I’m all for the wondrously wild ride.
I leave you with this: Take a walk down good ol’ regret lane. Make a list and see what you come up with. What do you really regret? Not just what you think you should regret. They’re different. What can you learn from them? What can you let go?