If you ask people what their biggest regrets are in life, I am astonished at the number of people who say “I have no regrets”. Nothing? Seriously? Wow! And there are some that take that a step further by saying, “I don’t regret anything I have done because it has made me who I am today”.
Here’s my theory… if you have no regrets in life, you are either absolutely perfect, which is clearly impossible OR you are not introspective or sensitive enough to realize that things you have done in your life may have adversely impacted people you care about, including yourself. And isn’t it possible that the place you are in now in your life may have been motivated by the regretful feelings following a mistake, causing you to behave differently the next time, therefore altering your path in life? I think perhaps YES, which means that regret played a role.
I have regrets nearly every day. Things like buyers remorse from a new pair of jeans that I definitely didn’t need and don’t fit me very well, likely because of the burger I chose to eat for lunch instead of the salad. But also more significant things like conversations that didn’t go very well or split decisions that I made that took me slightly off track. And my deepest regrets often come in the things that I didn’t do. The words that I didn’t say, the chances I didn’t take, or the complete absence of any choice at all.
Without regrets, how are we able to learn about ourselves and others effectively. It is essentially our compass on what we should be doing simply because we already know what not to do from the unfortunate experience of it. A lack of regrets seems to point to a lack of accountability or a complete disregard for potential personal growth.
Maybe it is the word itself that makes people resistant to acknowledging the presence of regret in their life. It certainly carries a connotation that we have royally screwed up. Not so, I don’t believe. Regrets don’t have to be epic for them to be existent. Merely, slightly impactful on the course of our lives or the ones that we love AND the self-awareness that we could have done something different in the situation.
Dwelling in regret I would say is a mistake. But recognizing regret in our lives provides us with meaningful opportunities for future growth.
What do you think? What regrets do you have in your life?