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My whole life, up until now, I’ve viewed regret as a bad thing.
Today, I’m not afraid to admit that I feel a lot of regret.
I regret saying no when I should have said yes.
I regret saying yes when I should have said no.
I regret the way I allow my mood to affect others.
I regret not being more compassionate, kind, or understanding at times.
I regret not loving harder or softer or fuller when needed.
I simply feel regret.
In the past, I’d feel shameful of the regret I felt because of the number of times I’ve been bombarded with people exclaiming, “No regrets!”
My understanding used to be that living without regret meant living life with meaning, purpose, or intention. I used to believe it meant trusting each moment or each action we take and accepting what cannot be changed.
But, after reading this quote by Brené Brown, my understanding of regret was entirely altered:
“The idea of ‘no regrets’ doesn’t mean living with courage, it means living without reflection. To live without regret is to believe we have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunities to be braver.” ~ Brené Brown
Boy, was I wrong about regret.
Feeling regret is not about not accepting what cannot be changed, it’s about accepting what can.
The regret we feel is not only valid, but it has a positive effect. Yes, when I feel regret, I don’t feel good. I still view it as a “negative” emotion. But the regret I feel gives me the opportunity to reflect on what made me feel that way and how I can make a change in the future.
Our regret has the ability to lead us to a life filled with more meaning, more purpose, and more intention.
When I regret saying yes to something I know I would have felt better saying no to, I learn from the negative emotion and maybe next time, I’ll gain a little more courage to set that boundary and say no.
When I regret the way my mood affects those around me, maybe next time I’ll be more aware of when it’s happening and how I can change my behavior.
When I regret not being more compassionate, maybe next time I’ll recognize how important it is for me to view situations from a different perspective.
There is so much to learn from our regret, and there is so much bravery in admitting that we don’t live with “no regrets.”
We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And from those mistakes, we learn. But it takes courage to be able to reflect on those mistakes and understand where and how we can make improvements.
And personally, I believe that once we stop suppressing our regret and actually start feeling and learning from it, we can move closer toward a life with “no regrets!” (But that’s not the point…)