People are always bandying around that cliché “no regrets” and in recent times I’ve seen the god awful “never regret anything because at one time it was something you wanted” being plastered all over the internet in those picture quotes, usually by teenagers with no life experience.
Um, no. The whole point about regret is because it wasn’t something you wanted. There are things in my life I wish I had never done, therefor, I regret having done them. They were not things I wanted to do, they were knee jerk reactions as a result of low self esteem. Sure, I learned lessons, and for that, I am grateful, but there are some things I could have gone without experiencing.
Personally, I think that if you have no regrets, you haven’t truly messed up and maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone and start being honest with yourself.
I would hazard to say that regret has made me a better person. Like getting burned on the stove, you learn where not to put your hands again. I don’t want to make the mistakes I made again, because regret hurts, so I figure out what the lesson was in that situation, and move on, better armed.
Regret is a yard stick. It’s a little reminder of where you fell and why so that you have less and less regrets as you get older. At least, to me, that’s the aim.
Dave Ursillo says there are two camps of people with opposing ideas on regret:
It seems that there are at least two equally strong but diametrically opposed camps of thought regarding regret. One camp embraces feeling regretful as natural and inevitable to occur, that it presents the opportunity to evoke positive change and inner growth. The other camp explicitly chooses to disregard ever feeling regretful, that the past should be left there and that regrets burden our minds and prevent us from acting as we “ought” to.
…neglecting to understand and harness one’s regret is ultimately more detrimental because holstering it can cause us to neglect to take responsibility for wrongdoing, to acknowledge one’s own shortcomings, and failing to learn lessons from the past — all of which can be harnessed and used for the sake of bettering one’s self in the present and future.
I know which camp I’m in. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t beat myself up over the things I did that I regret, the key is to learn from the mistakes so you don’t make them again, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have to wish they never happened.
How do you handle regret?