Katherine Mansfield once said “Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only for wallowing in”.
I learned early, not from Katherine but from living, that when you live a life of regret you become stagnant, unable to move forward and always wondering what if. If you are always wondering about the what ifs of your past how will you ever be able to answer the what ifs of your future?
So maybe you didn’t ask that boy out, maybe you should have made that call to your best-friend, that job, yes you should have accepted it, oh and that shirt, you never should have bought it. Think about the experiences you would have missed if you had done or had not done those things…
You didn’t ask that boy out, but when you didn’t you met someone else who has been great, or not so great, but even from that relationship you have learned great new lessons. You didn’t call your best-friend, but when you didn’t call your best-friend you took that extra time to have a moment for yourself and we all know those moments are sometimes far and few between.
But when do we regret? We regret when choices and actions made that manifest in negative outcomes, or what we see as negative outcomes and not just life occurrences. The funny thing about life, things don’t always go the way we plan, you know that and I know that, but what people seldom hold on to is that life goes on.
So maybe my advice wont help for the past things you regret but consider it for the future. And maybe at some point in the future you can learn to let go of past regrets.
Regret as defined by someone on Wikipeida:
Regret is an intelligent (and/or emotional) dislike for personal past acts and behaviors. Regret is often felt when someone feels sadness, shame, or guilt after committing an action that the person later wishes that he or she had not done. Regret is distinct from guilt, which is a deeply emotional form of regret — one which may be difficult to comprehend in an objective or conceptual way. In this regard, the concept of regret is subordinate to guilt in terms of its “emotional power.” By comparison, shame typically refers to the social (rather than personal) aspect of guilt or (in minor context) regret as imposed by the society or culture (enforcement of ethics, morality), which has substantial bearing in matters of (personal and social) honor.
Regret can describe not only the dislike for an action that has been committed, but also, importantly, regret of inaction. Many people find themselves wishing that they had done something in a past situation.