Our personal regrets are powerful in how they work to shape us into the people we want to be. But our accomplishments are even more adept at molding us.
I’ve got an old suitcase bulging at the seams with regret. I don’t lug its oppressive heft around with me on the regular, but I do hold onto it because it’s packed with important reminders of unsavory venues I’ve visited—places I never want to return to.
I’ve never been able to comprehend it when someone insists, “I have no regrets.” I can’t fathom how that can be true. I wonder whether it’s a sentiment possibly born of faulty hindsight. Or perhaps some false bravado. I do understand, though, that we’re better served and better able to serve others by focusing on all that we don’t regret more than all that we do.
The psych major in me recognizes this practice of spotlighting the good as opposed to the bad as the crucial difference between positive and negative reinforcement. The former promotes more of the best in us, while the latter—well, it’s what we wish to avoid.
In that vein, here are some things I don’t regret and I doubt I ever will:
– Telling the truth
– Not drinking last night
– Fighting for my marriage
– Setting boundaries with toxic people
– Forgiving him or her for hurting me
– Holding myself accountable
– Turning off the noise and sitting still with the quiet
– Owning my mistake
– Taking care of myself
– Buying the shoes
– Leaving my phone in the other room at night
– Confronting the issue
– Being kind
– A good workout followed by a nourishing meal
– Offering sincere apology
– Brushing my teeth
– Standing up for what I believe in
– Being open-minded & willing to listen to a different point of view
– Showing up to life even while afraid
– Believing in myself
– Turning around to help the next one in line emerge from the same hell I survived
– Protecting my energy
– Checking on my friend
– Listening to that still small voice
– Loving with action even when it’s hard to
These are the things I’m glad about. Things that amp my joy, all.
These are the things I choose to carry around with me. Not because I don’t have any regrets—but precisely because I do.
What heaviness are you hauling around, love? Which regrets can you let go of so that you’re able to grab hold of all that’s good?
What if you were to set down your remorse over the past in favor of carrying around more joy in the present? What if you then shared your newfound joy with the world?
I don’t think you’d regret doing so. Not even for a second.