Don’t be afraid; You have a choice you can make, you can look back on your life with regrets for what it was and what it was not, or, you can look at who you are today and be thankful for that which made you, for those people and things that allowed you to grow. By choosing gratitude you allow yourself to be free from regrets, and even alleviate some of the pain. When you acknowledge that life is a growth process that never ends you can quit being so hard on yourself and so afraid of making mistakes or misjudgments. Mignon McLaughlin said it so well:
What you are today is the price you paid for what you used to want.
– Mignon McLaughlin
If you find yourself filled with regrets, take time and ask yourself what you would choose to be different in your life? If your life is happy and you’re good with where you’re at there’s no reason to hold onto regrets. If there are things you’d like to be different, things you find dissatisfying, then focus on those things and develop goals that will help you to achieve your hearts desire. And, in all of this remember that you cannot (and have never been able to) control anyone else’s actions only your own, and then move forward to achieve your goals. If you find yourself imagining blockers to change, accept that this is your fears talking, moving past those may be uncomfortable – isn’t a bit of discomfort worth removing the weights of regret?
Your goals don’t have to be big to be “important” they can be very simple. What really matters is your happiness and the satisfaction you find in your life – living a fulfilling life – that’s what it’s really all about. Sometimes when you’re making change it’s easiest to start small, to develop the practice of making different choices and to start questioning how you’ve always done something. Eventually you’ll find it easier, and less intimidating, to strive towards bigger and better things. You’ll learn to let go of fear as you begin to feel the balance shift.
If you find yourself focusing often on regrets, try turning those looks back at the past to more positive memories like your daydreams long gone. If you can focus on what you hoped to have in your life, what you imagined life would be, your passions, or how you thought you’d spend your time, that can help you to plan your path into the future. One thing is fairly certain, unless you try, nothing will change. And, you really can own the fact that the path you’re on right now is not the only one open to you.
No one should choose to settle for regrets.
When I originally wrote this post in September of 1997, I was talking about myself, my life, and my life choices. Little did I know the gritty details of the journey I was on or how drastically my life would change in the 20 years since. Even while being aware of my actions and the impact each might potentially have on my life I didn’t understand that I was holding back because of fear. I didn’t believe in myself and I was creating regrets because of fears and “shoulds” that I was buying into. I ended up spending years struggling with my sexuality, years of denying myself experiences because I wasn’t the right weight, and years missing out because “I didn’t have a partner to share experiences it with”.
I had life-changing knowledge and I couldn’t accept it fully until I was really ready. I can tell you that once I was ready the regrets I’d created slipped away, once I understood what I had been unable to see about myself the things I was struggling with were no longer important. Perhaps there’s another lesson in that?
In March of 2017, I found this really lovely TED Talk by Mel Robbins discussing how to live your life without creating regrets in the form of “I wish…”. I hope you enjoy it.