What's your biggest regret? That's a bit of a heavy question, but our regrets often play a part in shaping who we are today. We come together as an amalgamation of our worst and best times, and that includes our lingering thoughts about them, which means our regrets hang around longer than we hope.
There's nothing wrong with that, though. Overcoming these regrets is an essential step in growing as a person. By understanding where the most common regrets come from, you, too, can take that first step toward leaving them behind.
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Holding Onto Pain
Regret is a complex human emotion. It's extremely layered and nuanced, with every person having unique circumstances that stir regret in their hearts.
They can be petty, they can be profound, it spans the entirety of the vast varieties of the human experience.
That being said, there are some types of regret that are more common than others. Understanding these frequent patterns in regret can better help us embrace where it stems from and how to overcome it, learning our lessons so we can move onto better things.
Neglecting the essential groundwork for a solid and meaningful life can lead to the emergence of foundation regrets. These regrets stem from moments when we failed to lay the necessary foundations, such as not setting aside funds for our twilight years or ignoring our physical health. Foundational regrets are very deeply rooted, and can have serious effects on our lives.
These regrets sound like, "If only I had prepared more," "If only I had tried harder," "If only I had put the work in."
This concept of foundation regrets stems from our innate yearning for stability, a fundamental framework encompassing education, financial security, and physical wellness. It's akin to the cornerstone of a building, providing strength and balance to the structure that rests upon it.
The wisdom to be gained from foundation regrets is that foresight matters. Do the necessary groundwork. Start it right now if you haven't already. Cultivate your skills and foster connections that will stand the test of time. Let your actions today pave the way for a future unburdened by the weight of "what ifs." The best time to start was yesterday, but the second best time is right this second.
As the years advance, it's the regrets of unseized opportunities that tend to linger, eclipsing any regrets stemming from the risks we did dare to take. These are called boldness regrets. The untrodden paths, the unexplored possibilities, these are the ones that cast a shadow, not any of the wilder leaps we did perform.
These regrets are very straightforward in their phrasing. It encompasses things like, "I should have taken that chance," "I should have said yes to that opportunity," "Why did I think I couldn't do it?"
Take That Leap
Boldness regret emerges from our innate desire to evolve as individuals and immerse ourselves in the richness of life. No matter the type of risk we've been mulling over, be it a romantic shot in the dark or a trip you never got to take, it all sits in the same place in our heart.
The lesson to be learned from these regrets is that you do need audacity sometimes. Follow those whims, listen to those nudges, see where they lead. It's a call to cease waiting in the wings and just step out onto the stage of our lives. These boldness regrets urge us to be the protagonist of our own stories, following through even the scariest of times. Grasp those opportunities, follow our desires, live life to the fullest!
Moral regrets stem from choices that clash with our inner moral compass and sense of integrity. Acts like bullying, unfaithfulness, or betrayal. These regrets are often performed when young and thought back on with shame, though they can happen at any age.
These regrets sound like, "If only I had chosen kindness," "I shouldn't have said those things," "I was foolish and will now be seen as a fool forever by the person I wronged."
Moral regrets come from our desire to stand in alignment with our principles and values, the elements of humanity we consider important. Be it a display of fidelity in our relationships or a refusal to partake in actions that harm others, these are the threads that weave the tapestry of a virtuous life.
They tell us to always choose the course of righteousness. It's a recognition that the path illuminated by integrity is often paved with fewer sorrows, lesser betrayals, and reduced suffering. These moral regrets beckon us to heed the call of our conscience, to embrace the higher ground, and to let our actions echo with the resonance of goodness.
Connection regrets lie in the moments with others we've let slip away, failing to nurture relationships. We're often hindered by the fear of discomfort of awkwardness, preferring to let a friendship or otherwise die out than reach out and be seen as strange for it.
These regrets sound like, "If only I had reached out," "I wish I had told them about [x]," "I never should have let them get away, I miss them so much."
Staying In Touch
Connection regrets come from the human desire for love and meaningful interactions that infuse our lives with so much joy. Whether it's a friend from the past or a loved one who's drifted away, these moments of distance create a void within us, a void that could have been filled had we simply reached out one more time.
Connection regrets also teach us that when a cherished connection shows signs of diminishing contact, summon the courage to overcome the awkwardness and extend your hand. Beneath that initial sense of uncertainty lies joyous reunions. It's a gentle nudge to overcome your hesitation and begin new chapters of the relationships you cherish.
To Grow And Change
Though regret is heavily tied to shame, it's nothing we should be ashamed of feeling. Regrets happen to everybody. There's no way to live your life perfectly when you've never done it before, and you never get a second chance. Not to mention that hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
Embracing regret is to embrace being human, as none of us are free from making mistakes. What's important is that we learn, and subsequently grow from them, and that we don't let these regrets hinder our lives.