It’s a very profound statement to declare that we live life with no regrets. It sounds good, bold, clean. But is it actually possible?
Regret means to “feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).” So saying that we’ve lived our life without regrets is actually a very selfish, or narcissistic, thing to state. If someone asked you if you had regrets the “correct” answer would be to say no. But don’t we all feel sad about some things in our past, repentant of bad behaviours, or disappointed that we didn’t quite get to where we wanted to be?
I think we all have regrets. I think we all have what ifs…
But hindsight is twenty-twenty, right? So just because we didn’t feel repentant at the time doesn’t mean that we can’t look back now and see how foolish or destructive our behaviour was at that previous time. If we didn’t make mistakes then we wouldn’t learn, we wouldn’t grow. So we need regrets to help us develop and mature, to give us wisdom to help guide those in younger generations.
That’s assuming of course that we do learn from our mistakes and I know from personal experience that not everyone does. But what is the cost of this wisdom? What do we give up? What do we damage in our environment to help better ourselves as individuals?
Regrets can be supremely personal. We would not share some things in our lives, or things from our past, because we are ashamed or embarrassed about them.
So I say this, admitting that you have regrets, that you would have done some things differently, shows a humility that we could all benefit to expand around us.
I hear what you’ll say, that our experiences make us who we are and without those experiences we would not be the people we are today. But you may have been a better person if you chose a different path. Others may have benefited from our diversion. Or maybe we would have caused more harm. I suppose we’ll never know.
To me it displays the power of language, the premium we place on certain words, “Do you have regrets?” Maybe. “Have you ever been disappointed?” Yes. “Have you ever hurt someone or been foolish?”
The path we are on, for better or worse, is set out behind us, but there are more choices to make up ahead. Don’t forget where you’ve been, those memories will guide you forward into the unknown future. At the very least, it will be an adventure.
Good luck on your adventures,