During my reflection, a day of two after writing my last blog post about our funerals, I realized that I forgot to include a very important sentence in it. It occurred to me that I forgot to say “I wish I had the courage or humility to say I was sorry for what I did or how I acted towards others more often”.
We never study regret in school nor do we ever talk about it in our 20s, 30s, or 40s very much. The web defines it as “being sad, repentant or disappointed about something that has happened”. It appears as a heavy cloud over us where we seemingly have no power. Regret is an outcome of self-reflection and awareness.
Later in life, regrets begin to pop up in our thoughts more often. I wish I took that vacation. Spending more time with my children while working should have been my primary focus. If only I took that job offer. Why did I ever start to smoke? If only I listened to my parents. I wish I never worked weekends.
What is difficult for us to understand is that regrets appear later in life because of decisions we made when we were much younger. Regrets that appear earlier in life, typically are for poor decisions made in “the moment”. Many times, it’s our small world that traps us into making poor decisions without ever understanding that there is more to the world than we know. If we had more perspective, understanding or broader experiences, we might have chosen differently.
For many, regrets are simply naturally occurring. They become devastating when they linger. When we continually focus on them. Instead, we should be looking to see how can we gain back part of what we missed. In some small way. At this very point in time.
Why? Because it will help us feel better about our lives at whatever age you decide to try.