“For me, success is not a public thing. It’s a private thing. It’s when you have fewer and fewer regrets.” Toni Morrison
Raise your hand if you don’t have any life regrets ….That’s what I thought! Having regrets is a layer of the human experience we sometimes secretly hold. And, when we talk about them, a sense of guilt and shame crawls into our hearts.
I remember once my son and I were talking about this and that, and upon a solid silence, he shared with me one of his regrets in life. He was at the cast of ending his adolescence. His voice and tone emitted a sense of guilt, sadness and grief. The following notes are inspired by that intimate conversation we had driving to Toronto.
I remember saying to him aloud and clearly: “Regrets are unavoidable;” part of evolving and having the birthright to make mistakes and experience failures along the way. The power of regrets is that we can learn more about ourselves.
How do we bring a wiser mind into reflecting on regret?
One is that we look at the future. Look into what you know about how the effects of our actions and inactions manifest. Stepping back and mindfully imagining the outcomes of what we are about to choose might affect us and others. Even then, we are not always as good as we wish at foreseeing results or controlling the many conditions leading to one path or another. However, slowing down to reflect and self-examine is a humble start!
Then, we can look into the past. What was on my mind when I made that choice? What was the motivation? What was the trouble in my mind I tried to solve? Please, remember that empathy towards ourselves is essential when we examine and try to understand past actions.