As I write this post I’m listening to a little James Morrisson. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody. So I apologize if I get a little emotional in this one. That dude has some passionate tunes. Now on with the SHOW!
Regrets. WTF are they?
Regrets are typically a look back at an experience in our past, and our personal desire that this specific experience would have had a different outcome. They most often are associated with us wishing we had made a different decision, had a different reaction, pursued something that we did not, or expressed an emotion we withheld for one reason or another.
I don’t plan on writing about how we should live without regrets.
For one, I think that is impossible. Secondly, I believe by trying to live without regrets you are inhibiting yourself from growing as a person, learning, and experience life in its truest form. Instead, regrets should be embraced, learned from, and used as a motivating tool to develop ourselves into a complete human being capable of extraordinary things. Bottling the emotion of regret will keep us from learning about why we felt the emotion in the first place. Thus, keeping us from avoiding it in the future. Instead of priding ourselves in having “no regrets” (something I have been very guilty of in my past) I challenge you to pride yourself in learning form them instead.
Good things come out of even the most painful events
Why do we feel regret?
Because we’re human.
Seriously, if you never feel regret you may have no compassion or empathy for others or yourself for that matter. We regret because most of us are perfectionists and hold ourselves to a ridiculously high standard that can almost never be met.
I whole heartily believe that holding yourself to a high standard is something all of us should strive for. However, if we plan to do so we must embrace the emotions that we inevitably will be faced with. Such as disappointment, anxiety, and self-doubt.
We are and always will be our own harshest critics. Which is a good thing. It should be embraced. If we are allowing others criticism to affect us in such a way that they take on the role of our harshest critic it is my personal belief that we will lose touch with our true identity and live a life that others want us to live. That to me would be the greatest regret. I’m not sure that specific regret is one that should be accepted. Ever!
By revealing our true selves we open up to vulnerability. Vulnerability is a double-edged sword. When we show ourselves we open up to experiencing regret, real pain, sorrow, and uncomfortability. But if we never let ourselves be vulnerable we miss out on some of the worlds greatest emotions. Love, passion, adrenaline, and happiness. These would all be non-existent. Imagine your life where you never felt those things.
Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future
What do we regret most?
In a study from Bronnie Ware (she works very closely with the dying) she found that most people on their last days felt the most regret with the following:
- Live a life true to myself and not of others
- A wish they had not worked so hard
- The courage to express true feelings more often
- Concentrated harder on relationships with “true” friends
- Allowed themselves to be happier
I don’t know about you but these 5 regrets appear to be so simple and within our control. How is it that we let these things lose priority in our lives to the point that we end up regretting them as we approach our last days? Is it because we are focusing too much on material wealth? Cars, money, jewelry, clothes, luxurious living, a home to live in that we can’t even afford? Do we end up losing sight on small treasures in life? The real experiences that create forever lasting memories, relationships, loves, passions, and experiences the will never be forgotten?
I went to the mall yesterday to buy a new pair of running shoes. I really needed them. My old ones were run down and a little trashy looking. I stepped into Finish Line and found a sweet pair of Reebok. I tried them on. I was looking fresh, big pimp’n for sure. I got up to the counter and something came over me. I realized the shoes cost close to $100 after tax. A million thoughts raced through my mind.
What else could I spend $100 dollars on?
I could sign-up for a triathlon, book a bungee jump trip, take my girlfriend out dancing and dinner, give it to a charity, take hang gliding lessons, the list goes on. I promptly apologized to the cashier and let him know I would not be buying the shoes today. I would regret it.
Collect experiences. Not material things.
So how the hell to deal with it?
Allow regrets to help you identify your personal weaknesses. Allow them to teach you for the future. Let regrets help you strengthen relationships or end ones that are insignificant or create negativity in your life.
Focus on things you can control and recognize that there are some things that are out of control. Specifically, you can always control your emotions and reactions but you can almost never control those of others.
Let regrets help you own up! Take responsibility for your actions or in-actions (is that even a word? Is NOW!) If you fuck up, own it! If you make a huge mistake, take responsibility. Or allow regrets to push you to strive for more and pursue passions. Not sure what your passion is. Watch this
Most importantly, let regrets serve a purpose. Don’t just have regrets. Let them push you to learn more about who you are, want to be, and help others feel comfortable with their own regrets at the same time.
Lets wrap this up.
Our time on earth here is limited.
Tomorrow means there is one less today.
Let your regrets serve as a reminder that you can do, be, and achieve so much more. Never ever second guess your past. Commit to being free, saying what is on your mind and living your passions.
My personal regret is not starting my life early. By that I mean it is only now, at 31 years of age that I have become comfortable with past experiences and personal mistakes. Focusing too much on how I will be judged in the eyes of others. Open yourself up to regret, to criticism, to life.
Everyone of us has regrets. It’s the worlds largest community. Why should we avoid or be ashamed of something that all of us share?
I’d love to hear from you. What are some of your biggest regrets? Post to the comments below.
It sure is a beautiful life,