Living Without Regret
We could say that regret is an emotion of sadness or disappointment, where we wish we had made a different choice. What do we regret more, the things we have done, or the things we have left undone? The habit of regret keeps us stuck in the past. How can we kick the habit and turn regret into an opportunity?
Guilt and remorse, on the other hand, bring up subjective feelings of being responsible. For example, someone runs in front of my car and I knock them over, I would feel a sense of guilt rather than regret. The difference is where I have some degree of control over a situation or action.
The truth is, we all attempt to make the best decisions but we all mess up from time to time. We have to live with the consequences of those decisions or lost opportunities. For this I would add that the way I deal with my past is that I say to myself; ‘I could only make decisions based on what I knew at that time’. Now, I have learned more and have become experienced, and hopefully wiser and would make different choices. But that was the best I could do at that time!
In America, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information carried out a meta-analysis on regret, one of some eleven studies that researched this topic. Regret was the most intense when there was a greater opportunity to make different and better choices. Unsurprisingly, the feeling of regret was far less where the possibility of choice was greatly reduced.
Interestingly enough education remained one of the biggest areas of regret, simply because with education there may be the possibility of a second chance. Studies also show that regretting action is more intense in the short term, whereas regret for lack of action taken is more intense over the long term.
The Centre found that regret fell into one of six main categories as follows:
Can we overcome regrets? When something happens, firstly, we need to ask ourselves, will this really matter in one week’s time… or after one or ten years? If not, then why make a big deal out of it? If it does matter then let me make the best choice that I can and move on.
It is good for me to take time to reflect upon what I have learnt from this situation. Has it not made me wiser and stronger? I am sure it has. If that situation had not happened, where would I be? Hopefully, I will be better positioned to deal with anything for the future.
We must all have come across some stories in our life that have made an impact on us. Here are a few:
- The grumpy customer in the diner – regrets not being more pleasant. But one day he leaves a big tip! He took the chance to express his gratitude for the friendly service he received over the years.
- Someone who was diagnosed with cancer – regrets not making the most of their health when they were well.
- The death of a partner or spouse – regret as the survivor realizes that they never appreciated the soul whilst they were alive.
I am sure that you have many of your own personal experiences. Let us take heed from those lessons learnt.
Remember, we can always change our attitude and the way we think. Try to change things where possible and move on. The place of power for us is in the NOW, in the present moment, and with the choices that we make. Make your best choice NOW.
It’s Time… to live in such a way, that there is no regret.
© ‘It’s Time…’ by Aruna Ladva, BK Publications London, UK