Regret. Everyone has it on some level, yet not everyone will admit it. I will.
Regret is something that will wake me up in the middle of the night and fill me with a deep pang of remorse. It’s something that will flash in my head and I will shudder when I let myself think about it. And there are a few memories that will hit with like a flash of fierce, lightening-like pain and regret. I have always hated regret. I used to wish that I could never have regret. Even though I knew I would make mistakes, I didn’t want to feel regret over it. I would look at people that just shrugged off their mistakes like it was nothing and I would feel so envious over it. Because there are still times that I think about a mistake I made in 6th grade (like 20 years ago!!) and feel regret over it. The stupid thing did a month ago…shew we, I will think about constantly for months.
I listened to a podcast yesterday from Glennon Doyle that talked about regret and I was instantly sucked in. To be honest, I really listened to see if they had the same types of regret I had. I listened because I wanted validation that maybe I wasn’t so bad. I wanted them to tell me their mistakes were so much worse than mine and they got over their regret, so I could too. That’s not what I got. I got something better. Their regrets were deep and raw. But they were unique to them. They were not any better or worse than mine because they weren’t comparable. Their regret was theirs alone… And that’s what I learned.
We all have regrets and our regrets are unique to us. They suck. And no matter what we learn about regret and no matter how much we change, the memory of those regrets may sometimes still cause us to shudder in shame. But to feel regret is evidence that we are changing. In their words: “To never have regret is to either never examine your life, to never look back and see it it’s out of alignment of who I am OR to never realign your life at all and never be changing. Regret is proof that you have grown.”
Regrets are part of the human experience, just like every other part. Of course, we can choose to not have regrets, but if we do that, we are losing part of the human experience that makes us evolve individually. If we deny regret, we never acknowledge the ways we can grow and become better. I have many regrets. Most are small, stupid things I shouldn’t have said or should have done.. but there are a couple of big ones that I think of often. I will never be able to go back in time and change things that I have done, or say something before it is too late. Some days the reality of that hurts. It really hurts. However, I believe that I should allow myself to feel the pain of the regret. I need to feel the “why” it hurts when I think about it. We won’t get the time back to change what we have done, but we are able to change the future and learn from our mistakes. That’s what matters.
I want to grow. I want to constantly be becoming a better version of myself. But that doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes along the way. Sometimes those mistakes will remind me I am just a human, often resorting back to the old things that made me feel good. For me, that’s okay. I may have regret over them, but as long as it is less often than I once made them, I will know that I am growing as a person. Like what they said in their podcast, I want to be able to look back in ten years and have some regrets over my time of life right now. I think I am making great choices, but if I end up having some regret over something I did, then I know I have grown in some kind of way.
If you are dealing with regret like me, I have three things for you to do:
1. Acknowledge it. It is hard to acknowledge what you have done wrong, but that is the first step of growth. Acknowledge it and let yourself feel the pain of regret.
2. Ask yourself why you feel regret—what part of what you did makes you feel bad? If you can answer that question, then you can also narrow down how you have grown as a person because your actions then don’t align with who you are now.
3. If it’s possible, make amends with someone you have done wrong. It may not always be possible, but if it is, it is worth it to reach out. If it isn’t possible, that’s okay too.
If you have regrets like I do, I hope this helps in some way. Much love to you.