No regret, eh? I regretted the 872 pounds of candy corn I ate in October, but you know… I just had to move on and deal with the consequences.
It’s quite fine to have momentary regrets, they are natural. We slip and say something unintentionally stinging to a friend or slept through the alarm one to many times to make it to the gym class we wanted to attend (full disclosure: unless I’m teaching, I’ve never regretted getting more sleep!) But anyways, there are little blips in life that just happen. They’re not even big enough to learn a lesson from because, you know… next October I will not have learned my lesson about the candy corn and still snort it like the crops are drying out.
I also try not to be one of those everything happens for a reason people, although I kinda am most of the time. I do believe that sometimes, on rare occasion, shit happens for no reason at all, and it’s just shit. You try, but there is nothing to learn from in the situation, so you get over it and move on. So, while situations don’t deliberately present themselves in your life with a higher purpose, we can choose to find meaning in them if we wish to. Just like your astrology sign. You can relate to your astrology sign if you wish to. #teamsagittarius
So, what is regret exactly? Google says it’s feeling sad or disappointed over something that has happened or been done, especially a lost or missed opportunity.
The biggest catalyst to regret is time. Limited time. If we were immortal, then there would be many chances and many opportunities, over and over again, like the movie Groundhogs Day. Once-in-a-lifetime wouldn’t exist. We can't control time; the clock never stops. We must understand that we can only control ourselves.
Perhaps there is a small place for what I would consider short-term guilt, especially in its preventative stages. You might think about holding your tongue instead of saying that nasty thing to someone for the fear of guilt whiplash. That's perfectly fine. Hopefully, as a practice, that becomes more natural and instead of the fear of guilt, you actually develop a desire to be compassionate.
But long-held regret winds its way through and around your heart only to darken it, and doesn't serve you. The place you come from when regret clouds your mind is not a place of sincerity or authenticity. And the people standing beside you in this life will suffer too. It can cause severe mental stress, which takes energy away from other positive endeavors and negatively affects hormonal and immune system function. At its worst, it can cause depression and create distance in your most cherished relationships - which is just another thing to regret later on.
Well when you put it that way... regret is selfish, in a way. Negativity that you are choosing to hold close is hurting you and those around you.
A few questions to consider:
1. Do you have the chance to make it right? Do you actually get a do-over? If so, then do everything you can to make it right. Do not wait.
2. Did you learn something? If you can harness the power of growth, then while your actions may not be able to be justified, you can move forward knowing that you can avoid it again in the future.
3. Does holding onto regret change anything? The answer to this is always no. Regret is a feeling that resides only inside you. Holding onto it doesn't absolve you from anything, and doesn't make a difference to anyone else. It hurts only you, and helps no one. Time to let it go.