That tiny super villain. Creeps up your spine when you fall unconscious, you close your eyes, you make a decision, that decision is good – until it’s not. And regret starts to work its grudge. Climbing up your back, clawing tightly into your neck, making you choke – What if I had decided differently? What if I had run left instead of right? What if I had said No instead of Yes? What if I had stayed put instead of leaving forever?
Regret is a devil.
She crawls up on you and whispers all those guilty sentences in your ear, tells you how you did wrong, how that one situation in the past will alter your life forever for the worst, she makes you think that everything in the now is only a conclusion of one – ONE – wrong decision in the past. No backsies. You chose to fail.
Regret makes you feel small.
If you listen to those whispers for too long, you’ll soon be lost in self-doubts, you’ll shut the world out and flee into isolation, you’ll build those walls – you will do just anything to never be wrong again. Perfectionism is trying to rule your life, but as we humans, same as everything in this universe, have never been made for perfectionism, you’re setting yourself up for the road to failure, and failure leads to regret – Welcome to the vicious cycle of your life. Do you see the paradox in it? Once, you set out to ban regret from your life – and today, regret is all that’s left of you.
Regret is a reminder of life’s finitude.
No matter how much you believe in reincarnation, heaven or other glorious in-between-lives-scenarios – regret always reminds you of the one thing you’ll never be able to change – and this is the past. Chances untaken, opportunities unused, places unseen, faces unknown. Nothing you will ever do will bring that one situation back, and that’s finitude. Finitude, felt in your body, is one of the worst feelings we, as humans, can have. We need to have the feeling that we’re in control, but the past is out of our control. Forever.
Regret is powerful.
Regret can crush you to pieces and convince you that nothing you do will ever make a change. It can make you helpless, it can make you hopeless, it can chase you up the cliff and force you to look into that abyss. It can make you jump. Regret has the power to kill you – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically.
Regret can be your worst enemy. If you let it.
So what if you don’t? What can we learn from regret?
Life doesn’t always go our way. Decisions you make in one moment, totally convinced that this is the only rightful one you can make, turn out to lead you into a dead end. You’re standing there, looking back, asking yourself how you could have been so stupid, so blind? And now, there’s a new decision to make: Will you be crushed by this little demon grinning at you diabolically, will you listen to her telling you that it’s all your fault and you’ll be trapped in this lane forever – or will you kick her against the wall, turn around and move on?
Because the truth is – yes, you can’t change the situations of the past, you can’t change the decisions you made, you can’t change the person you were back then. But you can change the person you are now. You know this is a dead end, so if you do – Don’t linger! You just go back and take another road. You can use that little demon. You can talk to her. Find the spot where the regret hurts the most – and if you’re brave enough to dig deep, to face the demon, to look it in the eye and listen to what she REALLY says – you know what needs to change.
Not in the past, because the past is unchangeable – but in the Now. The only time that really matters.
So what to do with that little devil, crawling right there along the bottom of the wall before you? What to do with those nagging questions it asks?
What if you rewrite those What-If-sentences and transfer them to the Now?
What if I decide differently?
What if I go left inside of right?
What if I say No?
NOW is the change. And it’s a small change, isn’t it? A change that even you can do. Rephrasing those sentences might not chase the monster away. But it will change the way you look at it. Trust me. And if you don’t – well, just try it out. The answers are just one question away.
What are yours?