There’s an emotion we’re all familiar with. It’s not explicit. But that does not mean it’s less real. It’s the feeling of regret. Its’s implied every time we ask ourselves why we haven’t become the person we want to be. We feel regret’s sharp sting when we reflect on the opportunities squandered, the choices deferred, the […]
There’s an emotion we’re all familiar with. It’s not explicit. But that does not mean it’s less real. It’s the feeling of regret. Its’s implied every time we ask ourselves why we haven’t become the person we want to be.
We feel regret’s sharp sting when we reflect on the opportunities squandered, the choices deferred, the efforts not made, the talents never developed in our lives. Usually when it is too late to do much about it
Regret is the emotion we experience when we assess our present circumstances and reconsider how we got here. We replay what we actually did against what we should have done and found ourselves wanting in some way.
Regret can hurt.
For such a penetrating and wounding emotion, regret doesn’t get much respect. We treat it as a benign factor, something to deny or rationalize away. We tell ourselves, “I’ve made stupid choices but they’ve made me who I am today. Lamenting the past is a waste of time. I learned my lesson. Lets’ move on” that’s one way of looking at the regret—if only as a form of self-protection from the pain of knowing missed out. We’re comforted by the fact that no one is immune to regret (we are not alone) and that time heals all the wounds (the only thing worse than experiencing pain is not knowing if and when the pain will go away)
I want to suggest a different attitude, namely embracing regret (although not too tightly or for too long). The pain that comes with regret should be mandatory, not something to be shooed away like an annoying pet.
When we make bad choices and fail ourselves or hurt the people we love, we should feel pain. That pain can be motivating and in the best sense, triggering – a reminder that maybe we messed up but we can do better. It’s one of the most powerful feelings guiding us to change.
Derived from my recent reading…
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