A tendency to be pretty hard on myself and a bit of a perfectionist streak lead me to find things I regret. I can look back at my day…week….year and wish I did X,Y or Z differently. I remember when the boyz started Kindergarten and I was so upset, wishing I had been less stressed and more present during those 0-5 years home. I also wish I had been more confident in high school and joined the running team instead of soccer as I think an individual sport would have suited me much better. I wish I had continued blogging from the time we came from India….I wish ..I wish…I wish…
A few years ago I came to terms with a certain level of regret – like when I go on a trip and inevitably there is something else I wish I had packed or something I intended to pack but forgot about. After a few consecutive trips like this, I came to the conclusion that there will always be something for my brain to find that it wishes I brought with me and that awareness alone, helped me to release the regret.
Thought patterns become ingrained in our minds like habits. We have grooves in our brain and we can lazily keep going down that same track..ie ‘I wish…” Thankfully we can change those grooves at any point – no matter what our age. As we practice a new pattern, we start to create a new groove and the old one atrophies as we use it less and less until eventually the new one becomes automatic.
So while we can change our brain’s incessant search for something to feel badly about, a new perspective on regret came to me the other night. Maybe if we never felt regret that would mean that we had not grown. Maybe part of where regret comes from is being a slightly different person now and having more clarity which time provides and being able to view a situation a whole new way. When we are in the midst of something, we cannot see clearly. This is why when people tell parents of young children to ‘enjoy it – it goes so fast’ it falls on deaf ears for the most part. Those parents are in the midst of the hectic-ness of child rearing and family life. They cannot have the same perspective as someone who is beyond that phase of life and can see now how very fast it does go.
Savor that moment Mama 😉
That person can see clearly how she may wish she parented – but it is easy to see that when you are not ‘in’ it – feeling the stress, exhaustion and to do list that parents feel. This is why grand-parenting is so blissful (from what I hear anyway :)). So possibly, if we look back thinking ‘I wish’, maybe it is because we are slightly different, slightly more aware, slightly more wise. In that case, regret tells us something positive about ourselves- that we are progressing on this journey of life and learning as we go. Learning hopefully implies change as well. We can apologize if the regret is something that hurt another person (there is no statute of limitations for apologies!) And if the opportunity presents itself again, we may choose differently that time given our new awareness.
As with any feeling, if we push regret away, it will keep knocking. It is painful to feel regret, but if it comes up, we can practice non- attachment and we can allow it to move through as a new perspective and an awareness that we have grown. Attaching to regret can cause shame, depression and sadness. Self-compassion is key to healing this – to look back and not just think about what we would do if we were to do it over again, but to see ourselves as we were at that time…to remember what we were feeling and thinking which led us to make those particular choices…and to have compassion for that younger self and know she was doing the best she could at that time.
And with that, we will feed the love <3