Whether it is regret for having done something like staying in a job or relationship too long, saying something that irrevocably changed a relationship, or not taking an opportunity when it is presented, regret comes in many forms.
Some of my biggest regrets are how I treated people. Growing up I was not a great communicator, and I was not shown how to communicate, respect or value others to the level they deserved. This showed up in how I interacted with people. The thing here is that I only very recently developed this understanding, because of the love of Lisa. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I’m sorry for how I behaved in the past and regret it. I hope I am better now. Life is a journey which I hope improves my learning as I go.
I have regrets in some decisions I’ve made. I have regrets in not taking some opportunities as they presented themselves. Some of these have been when I’ve been travelling and there was an opportunity to do something, but because I was younger and I believed I’d be back to that place I never did it. Now I know. If there is an opportunity, and I feel like I want to do it, I do it (with consideration to others, and our bank account obviously!).
Mostly my regrets are in things I didn’t do. I don’t have regrets for things I did that didn’t turn out well in the end, because at the time I made the decision, and even if it didn’t end well – the journey until that ending was mostly good. It is like when you go on holiday somewhere and have a fantastic time – and then the flight home is delayed and plans are disrupted. This doesn’t mean the holiday wasn’t great.
Regret is not guilt. It can feel like it, but guilt is a different altogether. Wow – we’re nurtured to feel guilty. I don’t even want to cover that here.
I don’t wallow in the regrets because there are so many beautiful things going on in my life, and my hopes for the future are strong. On top of this I’m learning how to make better decisions – not less risky decisions but decisions aligned to my values.
“Don’t look back with regret. Look forward with hope.” – Author Unkown
Regret comes often in a grieving process at the loss of something or someone. Or things might not be going well right now, and you look back saying “If only I’d …” or “I wish I had …” Reducing regret is about learning from the past, and making positive choices now. There is a good chance that the decision you made when you said “If only I’d …”, will be repeated again because there is something in your subconscious driving this, whether it is lack of courage, a value of security, whatever. The regret will recur.
So when we look at the biggest regret in people’s lives – not living the life you truly wanted, how does this come about. In my mind it comes about from not taking a risk and backing yourself. Not having the courage to step out. Nothing starts with confidence. It starts with hope, belief and courage. Courage knowing those close to you will show anger, abandon you, treat you as an outcast. “How dare you!” I’ve had all this – believe me. But let me tell you something – It’s worth it! Confidence, and self-confidence, comes from taking action, repeated action, on the back of this courage. Or you can play it safe. Cosy in your comfort zone – not disturbing anyone, least yourself.
I’ve been in enough change situations, researched and read about enough change in organisations and people to know how difficult change for people can be – and the chances (if you aren’t living your authentic self) are that you will find it extremely difficult. In fact it is almost impossible without support. The power needed to overcome the status quo, social norms, peer pressure, having the tough conversations, dealing with the emotions and turmoil is big. But again let me tell you. I’ve been there – and I came through. It is worth it!
If you’re living, with regret welling up inside you, do one thing to make a change. Join a networking group, a social club, something. You’ll be surprised how you’ll see things differently. You don’t need to make the huge courageous change or life move in one go. Bite off as much as you can cope with. Keep moving.
“The real regrets in life are the risks you didn’t take” – Habeeb Akande
The sooner you deal with some hard stuff and move to live as you really are, the less regrets you will have.
Imagine living the rest of your life knowing you will have this regret at the end. What sort of torture is that?
What will your biggest regret be? You still have time to make this right.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.