One common question that people ask from each other is relating to regret. “Is there anything you regret in your life?” “Would there be anything you would change if you could in your past?” “Do you wish to do things / say things in some other way or behave differently in that situation?” These are questions that I am sure all of you have heard before and been asked at least once in your lifetime. It is a very accepted topic to talk about. Most of the time, the questioner brings this conversation up for one of the two reasons. One is to get to know you better genuinely, what kind of person you are, what your way of thinking is. This is the better one. But the other reason “regret” topic can come up in a conversation is to satisfy the person’s curiosity about certain past events that she / he wishes to know more about and / or to even make you feel worse about it.
However, it does not matter why one asks questions relating to regret. What matter is that it is a conversation that should not be treated as lightly as it is treated nowadays. It should be taken more seriously when one says that they are having regrets in their lives, that they are carrying a burden that is unnecessary, that there is something in their past that they wish to change. Because situations that you cannot let go, that are making you feel regret and feel sad are affecting your present in greater ways than you can imagine. They are holding you back to live up to your full potentials, they are holding you back to evolve, they might affect your relationship with others, they might hold you back from feeling love, they might make you repeat the same mistakes over and over again if no lesson is learnt.
My Personal Regret
I am going to be honest with you here. I am not the type of person who regrets anything. I have never been, and I am not one even now. Somehow, I always knew and understood that there is no point at all dwelling on past decisions, situations when there is nothing I can do about them now. Even when I was younger, and I got asked what things I regretted in my life; I looked back, but I never felt anything that I wished to change or do differently. Things happened in that way for a certain reason, so what is the point regretting anything. I was thinking this way up until the day I lost my dad.
If you have been following my writings and been reading my previous blogs, you are aware that I have had a very distant kind of relationship with my father, I did not really have any connection to him. I did not appreciate him the way he deserved it, not until I lost him. Of course, this realisation did not hit me right away. I think a few years had to pass by, I needed to get wiser, more mature, and less spoilt to see what kind of dad he was and what an undeserving way I was treating him. When I managed to see this reality, my perception about regrets in my life has changed. I recognised that I felt regret. Regret towards the relationship I had with my dad, the way I was with him – or more likely the way I was not with him – the things I said to him, and the things I did not do for him when he needed me the most. Yes. That was a burden I put on my shoulder and carried with me for years.
Regret For Self - Punishment
Let’s face it, feeling regret within has no other point than self – punishment. What other reason you would feel this kind of sadness. When you feel regret because you wish you could have woken up earlier to have time to work out; when you wish you could have worn different shoes in a snowy, rainy weather like this today; when you wish not to broken up your relationship with your partner; when you wish you would have or would not have said things to the other person; when you wish to leave that abusive relationship earlier; when you wish you would have said yes to that proposal…...finish up the sentence with your own example if have any. No matter how big or minor these examples are, if you have a look at them and think about them, they are all about you and punishing yourself for not knowing better at the time, for making a mistake.
Because that is what regret is. A decision, a mistake if you want to call it that way, that you have made at the time based on certain factors, emotions, wisdom, knowledge, and maturity. But punishing yourself for that is so unnecessary, heavy and that is so not the point of mistakes in your life. They are not there to make you feel sad, to make you feel regret. No, mistakes are needed in your life so that with the help of them you can transform and evolve, so that you can do the main and the most important thing and reason you are here on Earth. You learn the lesson that is needed to be learnt from them, you experience whatever it is necessary for your growth and move on to the next stage of your life. That is why mistakes are there in your life, and not to make you feel regret, not to make you punish yourself.
My Example - My Self - Punishment
I remember when I was talking to my sister about it, I always said to her that my relationship with my dad was the only thing that I regretted in my life and that was not even something I wished to let go. Ever. The regret I was feeling, the heaviness of it on my shoulder felt good because this way I was punishing myself. I was punishing myself for my behaviour, for my way of being with him. I thought that I deserved it, that I had to feel this way, that I cannot free myself from this baggage because I am not worthy of it. I cannot have an “easy”, regret free life when I made mistakes, when I was not the child that my dad deserved to have. How could I feel light and free, how could I let go this burden when I was not loving him the way I should have for that nineteen years of my life? And this way, to be honest, I was holding onto him, as well; I was not letting him go.
Not until one day; after a long self – development journey; I have realised that the heaviness is gone, no more regret in me at all, and I am not even holding onto him, I am not attached to him anymore. Just as I managed to let go of my regret, I managed to let him go as well and let him rest in peace. All of this because I have understood that it was just a lesson that I needed to experience, and by feeling regret, I just cause more harm than do any good. I looked deep within, I had forgiven myself and for him, as well because I realised that both of us did the best we could with the knowledge we had at the time. And I moved on with ease and feeling peace within. And when I think back to our times together now, I feel grateful that things happened the way they happened. Because they needed to happen that way so I can be the person I am now. And I would not change a thing at all.
It is very much a cliché, but to be honest, learning the lesson and letting go is the only way to overcome regrets in your life. There is absolutely no benefit whatsoever to feel the heaviness of regret on your shoulder. First of all, you are punishing no one else other than yourself. You are not causing harm to the other person you wish you would have said harsher things in your debate. You are not causing harm to the person you wish you would have left earlier on in the relationship. You are not causing harm to the other person you wish you would have loved harder. The only person who is hurting, the only person who is still in the past and not living up to her / his full potentials due to being stuck in a past experience that is relived, replayed over and over again for no reason at all is you. You are the one not changing. Whatever happened, happened. Let it go. All you are doing with regret is that you are taking away the feeling of freedom, the feeling of ease, and peace within from yourself. You are adding an unnecessary difficulty to your life and the more you hold onto it, the heavier it gets. You are not growing nor evolving. And that is not why that experience happened to you.
I am sure, at some point in your life, you have come across with circumstances that made you feel regret in a certain way. Even if it were just for a shorter period of time, I am sure you have said to yourself at least once, that you wish you could have said / done it differently. But I want you to see that life is not punishing you, it does not want you to feel sad nor regret. Experiences are happening to you, no matter how sad and heart breaking they are, to make you change, to make you wiser, to make you unfold even more to the person you were meant to become. Whatever is the result of that experience, it is there to help you and not to hold you back nor to keep you in the past. Learn the lesson that is needed to be learnt, and move on, let go, stop punishing yourself and next time when similar situation happens, become more aware, remember and act accordingly with more knowledge than before. Letting go, releasing yourself from regret, learning the lesson is not easy, it takes time, it is a process. But at the end, it is all worth it and that is how it is meant to be. And please, do not wish to delete past mistakes. Past is needed to be the way it is, so you can learn and grow. By deleting past mistakes, you make your present wisdom deleted, as well.