I wish I’d ordered the pork belly instead of the lamb – it looks so good on Lisa’s plate. A pang of regret fills me. Oh well – it was my choice. I’ll be over it shortly and there is no great adverse consequence. Anyway Lisa normally shares some of her dish with me. She’s great like that. But what about other decisions in my life? Decisions to not change something in my life for the better. The consequences here are different and the chances are I will live to regret them. How would that sit with me?
For example, how is this for a regret? It is often claimed that the greatest regret of the dying is not having lived their own life, but a fake or safe one to please others. Fitting in. Not daring to stand out, stand apart from the group. Not living your own truth. Not being authentic. Not living to do the things that nourish your soul, bring joy to your inner self, and therefore, by default, spread joy outward. Echoing how you feel inside. We can fake contentment all we like. Even if the people close to us know where we’re at, chances are, they’ll be ok with us staying where we are – they like us in our safe and content zone. In fact they may need us in that place. They’re probably living the same life. Others care more than that, and might challenge us – “Be your best”. So we have an issue. Our biggest regret may become that we don’t live our authentic life – and if we suddenly find ourselves at that point, by then it’s too late. You can choose to change this. Stop living your greatest regret! You owe it to yourself and those you love.
But so what? You’re dying anyway – what’s the issue with having regret like this?
If you think about it, it means that the person lying there, breathing their last breath (picture yourself), has lived every day, from a given point in time – knowing they are not being authentic. Knowing they are not being their best.
The other thing about not living your own life is the fact that the regret is about living your life – not about what you’ve achieved. Yes we may achieve a lot. Many people do. But what is more important – achieving something, or living as you? Living as yourself seems to be your biggest achievement – at least according to those about to die. Living authentically to your values.
There are people that say you shouldn’t have any regrets. Don’t regret anything. Have no regrets. I can’t do that. It doesn’t come naturally for me. I liked the look of that pork belly! I have regrets for things done and not done in my past, but mostly not done. When people say that, they don’t mean that there won’t be regrets from the past – I believe they mean that they’ll make sure they live going forward making decisions and acting in a way that will reduce any future regrets. Yes! From now on we can do that – YOU can do that.
I have regrets. Everyone does, even though people move on and cover them up or try to ignore them. Regret is a feeling. It comes upon you naturally. You must accept it, not deny it. There are things that I did, when I lacked the wisdom that I have now, that I regret. There’s still more wisdom to acquire. That’s okay, as long as I’m learning as I go. Taking time to reflect on what has happened. For you. Don’t beat yourself up. Let go.
The issue with regret is not with having regret. I believe the issue with regret is wallowing in it. If you are living with this feeling of regret and unable to move on then there is an issue. Ability to learn and move on, let go, is necessary. You can’t live with regret. You made many decisions, which were right at the time.
Next time I want to have a look at some of my regrets and things I did to ensure I didn’t repeat them – and we’ll look at what you can do to ensure you don’t live in regret.
Let us know what you wish you had done differently, it might just help someone when you share.
Until next time,