Ah…Regret! They say that in the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take. Personally I believe this to be true but that doesn’t mean we won’t come face to face with regret on things we do choose. In Palliative Care, the one thing patients talk about the most are regrets related to love. Just like our friend Paulo Coelho in the above photo says, we need to live our lives now, not later.
Say what you need to say. There’s even a song about that by John Mayer. 😉
Are you familiar with the saying hindsight is 20/20? It’s that retrospect moment, when you look back on something you can clearly see what you should have done…only thing is, it’s done. Like dating the wrong person or getting a really bad haircut. Ouch..regret. If you’ve ever made a bad decision, regret has been your roommate. Not like Sheldon’s roommate agreement from the Big Bang Theory but more like a difficult companion that can make you both tougher and more sensitive all at the same time. You get to decide if your toughness looks like unending bitterness or if your sensitivity looks like a kindness so deep it heals every wound it touches. Do you want regret to be your arch enemy or your best friend because ultimately, it’s you who decides.
Even though the past cannot be changed, the way you tell the stories about it can be.
For instance, remunerating the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s will keep you stuck in the past and also in denial. Something happened, yes it was horrible but it happened. Instead, try to find the life lesson that’s hidden in there because there’s always one waiting to be found which is why we’re here to learn from it. Take a positive spin on it and see what happens.
Regret is a mixture of two emotions, sadness and anger. Sometimes these emotions can be overwhelming so one thing you can do is this. Write two columns with the headings Sadness and Anger at the top. Under each heading, answer this question as many times as possible: “I am _______ about __________” This is the messy hard part but remember, the only way out of painful emotions is through them. Keep writing until you can’t write anymore.
It’s time to grieve what you lost. This is essential because if you don’t, it will come back twice as hard the next time around on the next situation. The moment when you see someone gaining what you regretted losing is when you know you’ve finished grieving. Bravo my friend.
Now it’s time to look ahead to the future and pave a way to making better decisions. Life will bring us to a crossroads more than once and maybe what we need to do is to lean into love and not fear. Ask yourself “What would thrill me more?” rather than “What will keep my fears at bay?” But some might say the love path is anxiety provoking and scary.
Maybe…but here’s the thing.
This is the moment you can call on regret, not as a burden but as a motivator that reminds you not to make choices that make you feel awful in retrospect. This is the upside of regret. If you’ve done all the above steps and realized everything based on love is worth doing, then go ahead, because life is about to take you on an adventurous ride of happiness.
And I bet you won’t regret it. ❤