I don’t usually believe that any emotion is pointless. Anger, sadness, frustration, grief, resentment. They all have a message for us. They’re a signal to pay attention to something that’s important to us.
Regret, however, is futile. It can have a message for you but, overall, regret is a self-torturing exercise in kicking yourself in the backside for something that you couldn’t have done differently. Or you would have done it differently.
Regret is an attachment to a you in the past that wasn’t – and never could have been. A you in the past that you are seeing through the eyes that you have now, with the wisdom of experience and a different perspective. Knowing what you know now that you didn’t know then.
Back then, whenever “then” was, you saw the situation or event through the lens of the perceptions and understandings about yourself, your life and the world that you had at the time.
If you could have seen it and felt about it back then the way you see it and feel about it now, including the choices and options you see now, you might have dealt with it differently back then.
Regret is a misunderstanding between the you that you are now and the you that you were back then. Just as you couldn’t see the world back then through the eyes and with the perspective, knowledge and understanding that you have now, you no longer see the world through the eyes you had back then.
Looking back on it, can you see how difficult it is to empathize with what you did and the choices you made at that time? Because you’re looking at your past behavior with your “now” eyes and not your “back then” eyes.
The problem is that you can’t really remember who you were back then and what you thought, felt, believed and experienced. You can’t remember your fears and insecurities and how limited your options seemed then compared to how much broader the possibilities seem now.
It’s obvious to you now how you should have handled the situation back then. It wasn’t obvious to you back then.
You judge yourself, “How could I have been so foolish, blind and stupid that I didn’t see it then?” And then the regret: “How different my life could have been if I had done…” – whatever it is you wish you had or hadn’t done or said differently.
- If only…
- I wish…
- I should have…
- I could have…
- Why didn’t I?
- Why couldn’t I?
- It’s too late…
- I’ll never…
Regret for the past is like driving your car (in this case your life) while looking in the rearview mirror instead of at the road ahead. There are two problems with that.
First and most obvious, it’s very dangerous (both in your car and your life) because you’re not focused on what’s right in front of you.
Second and less obvious, is that there are no opportunities in the past that you can take advantage of now. If you’re constantly regretting the past and looking in the rearview mirror, you’re missing the opportunities scattered by the side of the road and just up ahead in your life.
“When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Living while looking in the rearview mirror of your life is a good way to stay stuck in the past. What’s here right now in front of you?
Grab the lusciousness of life that’s here for you now. Don’t miss it because you’re too busy looking regretfully at what might have been.
Here is a brilliant quote about regret. Whenever I get into my own “if only’s”, I remind myself of this:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
I’m putting the finishing touches on my Life Cleanse Program. I’ll be looking for 12 to 15 people for this pilot group. What’s it about? Just as a body cleanse is used to get the toxins out of your body, this Life Cleanse will help you get the toxins out of your life…
As soon as the registration page is complete, I’ll send you all the info.
With warmest regards,