Regret is a normal emotional response to missed opportunity.
We risk it every time we make a decision. And nobody is immune to it. Even the most conscious among us know that to admit our regret is to understand we are fallible and human.
But there’s a fine line between honoring our humanity and prosecuting ourselves for crimes past.
If our regret about yesterday’s decisions and actions helps us do better work today, then it’s served a useful purpose.
If our regret puts us in a more generous relationship with our future, then it’s worth having.
If our regret makes us stop for a moment to remember accidents that have befallen us while we were uncentered, then it’s probably healthy in the long run.
But most of the time, though, we use regret as this anvil to keep our life from moving forward. It’s a punishment we administer to ourselves. Because we are unable to forgive and have compassion for our own missteps, we dwell on the past as a way to distract ourselves from the present.
Whether we realize we’re doing it or not.
But honestly, do we really need another thing to take us away from the only thing we have, which is this moment?
Do we really need to shred ourselves into pieces through ruminating bouts of merciless scrutiny?
It comes down to energy management. Spending vast amounts of energy bemoaning what we should have said or could have done or might have been, it’s simply not a smart use of our time.
We’re just adding insult to injury. Pouring salt on our wounds.
Here’s another way to think about it.
Do a word study on the term regret, and the antonyms that come up will be satisfaction, delight, joy, contentment and shamelessness.
Meaning, these are the things we miss out on when we pull out the whip and start beating ourselves up for being so stupid and naïve and shortsighted.
How could we possibly revel in the ecstasy of where we are if we’re too busy criticizing ourselves for the path we took to get here?
It’s time for each of us to spritz some mindfulness onto the rusted gears of our minds and get present with our lives, right now.
Which doesn’t mean that we will never have to endure a burst of fleeting regret.
But let’s not craft an entire identity around it.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you paralyzed by regret over unfulfilled possibilities, or can you forgive yourself for unrealized potential?