As I near the glorious and marvelous age of 54 I remember, like it was yesterday, when I was a 20 something whipper-snapper thinking I was invincible; that there was no rush to do anything because I had all the time in the world to achieve my ambitions. I also recall, very clearly, that anyone over 35 was considered, in my youthful mind, to be a pensioner.
And yes, I had the people that are my age now telling me to make the best of life, seize opportunities, believe in yourself and appreciate the people around you and other bits of wisdom. Did I listen? Not on your life. I thought it was the rantings of ‘oldies’ who must have held deep regrets about their own life and opportunities missed.
Now sounding like those people who used to speak to me (Wait a minute, I am one of them), do I have any regrets about choices and actions I made? Do I secretly harbor resentment for some of the things I did in the past and let those choices devour my very soul and dampen my current zest for life?
We all make mistakes in life, it is how we learn and grow. Holding onto regrets takes huge withdrawals from our personal happiness bank
It would be quite easy for me to let some past actions fester inside as not all my choices could be considered the right ones at the time, if I am truthful to myself. Specifically here, I am referring to the choices I made that had serious consequences to the lives of others.
I tended to be more selfish (Some will say a lot more) in my younger days and some of those decisions were at the expense of others, especially those who were nearest and dearest.
I have hurt a lot of people in my life through some of the choices I have made. I am not proud of those actions or decisions. I do hope that the people who felt the cold brunt of some of that selfishness can find it in their hearts to forgive me; for their sake and not for mine.
But all of those choices I have made have led me perfectly to where I am today and have indeed, sculpted me into who I am today (For better or worse can only be judged I guess by those that know me intimately!)
So no, I don’t regret any choices I have made. And although this can sound cruel and callous to some, I never think about them for more than a moment anymore. They rarely enter my mind.
Of course I would be lying if I said they have never entered my mind. They have. Usually, for a couple of months after those actions or choices I have made that can cause me to regret, they pop into my thoughts with regularity. However, even then, I choose how long those regretful thoughts stay with me.
But after that few weeks, no I do not think about them.
Why I choose the ‘No Regret’ Stance
Being philosophical about past decisions for a moment let’s get the clichés out of the way: It’s water under the bridge and there is no point crying over spilt milk. There is a lot of truth in those two statements. I cannot undo the actions I have made or the decisions I chose.
Letting regrets fester inside of you can cause a myriad of illness and dis-ease
A course of action I chose to follow last year, 5 years ago, 20 years ago-I cannot change it. Why keep beating myself up about it? Why carry extra weight around with me that does not serve me?
Regrets can become massive, soul destroying, emotional burdens that can cause the severest of personal ills. Regretting our decisions or those of others that have changed our lives can cause illness, disease, drug use, alcoholism and a myriad of other self-destructing mental and emotional states.
So why would I want to keep visiting them and reliving them?
If you are reading this and perhaps regretting a recent choice you have made all I can say is don’t torture yourself over it. It’s not worth it for the aforementioned reasons.
Too many people harbour grudges towards other people
Live with the choice and accept it fully. The same rule applies even if you made a recent choice that you feel regret over. If you cannot make amends or reverse it you only have one choice left: accept it. Obviously, if you need to seek forgiveness for any hurt your actions created then do so (and remember to forgive yourself while you’re at it) and then move on with your life.
If you think about it for a moment the reason you shouldn’t regret any choices you have made is because at the time you made them (or it), it must have been exactly what you wanted!
Grasping and keeping hold of nettles not only irritates your own hands, but those that you touch.
For example, let us say you left a girlfriend or boyfriend after a couple of years and now regret that choice and are frantically punishing yourself that you shouldn’t have done it. Can’t you see, it was what you wanted at that point of time in your life?
You obviously didn’t want to be with them or you wouldn’t have made the choice to leave. In most cases you will see that this is right.
Like in my own choices, you won’t see it this way immediately but in time you will.
Google Has No Time Machine
I know technology is accelerating forwards at lightning speed but not even Google or Apple have invented time machines. You cannot fly back to the past and make another choice. What is done is done. And those choices have brought you to exactly where you are now and who you are now.
Sometimes we don’t have to learn a new behaviour but simply let go of the old one
And incidentally, there is no point in you grasping regrets in the relationship that has just ended, that you could have done more. There is just no point in saying to yourself, If only I had shown more affection, more love, said more things, been more demonstrative etc.
You didn’t. And like I said, unless you can go back and and repair it, it will not do you or your confidence any good by repeating these thoughts and self-talk too often for too long.
You can learn though and ensure you don’t make the same mistake again, if necessary.
Simply Let Go
So let go of any regrets caused through the choices you made yesterday or yesteryear. Grasping and keeping hold of nettles, not only irritates your own hands, but those that you touch now or in the future.
By the way, if you are way younger than me and reading this I don’t expect you to listen and I certainly don’t expect you to take note-well, not if you are in your 20’s!
Your Awesome Coach,