This topic has come up several times and each time we have approached it in a different way. We were steered in this direction by an article that was looking at the conflict between what we might see as our ideal self set against how we actually see what we have achieved. Are we good enough? Did we achieve what we set out to? Or, did we achieve what other’s expected of us?
I have often spoken on the podcast about the problems that many of us have at the point of change. This might include deaths, redundancy, divorce, retirement and so on. I guess that the issues of regret, in most cases, do begin with the idea that “I got it’ wrong” and that can so often takes us right back to “am I good enough”.
Why isn’t my life perfect?
Pity the poor perfectionist who can never find happiness and lives in a world of ‘if only’ and nagging regret. If, as a perfectionist, you expect to get a first class honours degree and only get a second then you have failed. The none perfectionist will be happy with a second or even a two-two and after all a third is a still a pass. The perfectionist can descend into the regret of not having studied more. Over all the perfectionist will always live in a world of never having been good enough because, guess what, perfection does not exist.
If only I had!
In my work this is the most common form of regret. It often comes from us not living in the moment and life being the thing that passes us by while we are worrying about other things. Then suddenly we are old, retiring or even dying and we realise that we have run out of time, money, energy, whatever it is, that would enable us to now do what we wanted. It is now too late. The only route out of this one will often be self-forgiveness.
If only I hadn’t!
When we regret the things that we did do we might still be able to do something about it. Seeking forgiveness or forgiving others often takes us through this sort of regret. The extreme of this type of regret could be that our actions killed or damaged other people. It could be that we put our self in a position where we were damaged in some way. Over all we now wish that we had not done ‘it’. This is ‘Step One’ material from the live in the present book, it is now time to let go of what was and live in the present.
The beautiful you!
I know that you are beautiful because you are alive and have a body and life and bodies are beautiful. I have seen too many people damaging their body with cosmetic procedures or surgery only to regret their actions and decisions later. Perhaps when the breast implant burst or leaks or the over tightened skin begins to bag and hang. Or when someone ends up looking quite ugly having lost their natural beauty.
Distressing the body
I guess that when people punch holes in their bodies and have studs, rings and so on fitted that can be removed if we regret doing it. The one that is the most difficult is when the earlobe has become distended from having a large object piercing it. The one that does create regret and has led to a massive laser industry is the tattoo. The inks are very hard to remove and the chances of scaring are great. I have seen so many people who had the name of their lover tattooed on their body only for that relationship to come to an end. It is hard to date Gloria when you have ‘I love you Nellie’ tattooed on your forearm.
Mistakes are normal and it can be easy to face them with the emotions of fault and blame that may lead to regret. It is only when we can see the things that happen in life not as mistakes, problems, or issues of blame and begin to see them as the learning opportunities that give us the chance to grow, develop and become better people.
My resource for the podcast was that you get a piece of paper and make a list of all the things that you would like to achieve before you die and then get as many of them done as soon as you can. If you do this you will not find yourself in the misery of regret later in life.
Take care be happy and fulfill your dreams