I wrote a blog post in October of 2018 about this topic. However, after a recent conversation where this topic came up, it provided me inspiration and additional thoughts I wanted to share regarding this topic. Therefore, it seemed fit to embellish on the topic further, since every person experiences regret in one form or another. Oh yes, it was my significant other Valerie that inspired these thoughts. Men, a word of advice. Let's face it. Men and women have 'selective hearing.' Meaning, they hear just what they want to hear and disregard the rest, or, hear what they want to hear the way they want to hear it, rather than how it was said. Hey, it's human nature. I have learned over many years not to fall prey to that trap. Why? ... I'm glad you asked. At some point, someone you are connected to will refer to something they said in the past. God help you if you don't remember it. My partner Valerie and I have learned to listen to one another, and the right way. One speaks there mind while the other listens, and the other does the same. Oh yes, do we interrupt one another from time to time. However, we listen. That is the key, and actually, one of the main elements to reduce regrets. Let's get started.
Basically, regret is a negative conscious and/or emotional reaction a person has based on a decision or choice they made. This choice results in a particular action or inaction, meaning, lack of taking action. The severity or length of time a regret will last is dependent on how important the perceived opportunity is to someone. Regret can also vary over time. A person may initially have a regret and it passes, but it can reemerge in the future or from time to time, should something happen that triggers that memory. However, it is a self-controlling mechanism which is based on a person degree of acceptance. The human condition tells us that as individuals we do better moving on if we have ACCEPTED what has occurred. The key word is ACCEPTED. A person may still look back on a decision they made, but if they accepted that choice, the future impact is greatly reduced. Let's look at some examples of regrets. Understand the list can be very long and can do with just about anything. These are just some of the more common ones:
Not seeking a relationship
Everyone will have regrets. No person goes through life never making a decision or choice that they do not regret at some point. As stated, this is the human condition because no one is perfect. One of my quotes that I love is, "Perfection should never be expected, no one has it to give."
A DEEPER LOOK:
I want to talk about a particular type of regret. Please understand the concepts still apply to all types of regrets. The most common regret is found in relationships, or lack of relationships. I chose this one because there are reasons that this occur. In my book, "Making Partnership Choices," this is discussed in greater depth. Why? Because people blame themselves for the those choices. What most do not understand is, that at times, it is not their fault. Somethings are not in your direct control. Yes, if you recognize them you can change them, if not, you could live a life time with low self-esteem or self-worth, People who are shy by nature will live a lifetime experiencing many regrets. People are shy due to genetics and heredity. No one waves a hand over them when they are developing before birth and says, this child will be outgoing, this child will be shy. However, sometimes that shyness is a blessing, but most times a curse. People are not drawn to shy people. Therefore, it can be a hindrance for them. They will be the ones at a party sitting alone, or off in a corner by themselves. As the phrase goes, "They are not the life of the party." Many dispute the cause of shyness, but it is found that fear is positively related to shyness. (courtesy of Google) This suggests that children are raised with fears, or a fearful child is more likely to develop being shy as opposed to those children with fewer fears. The causes of this fear are many but related to over-protective parents.
Being overprotected of your child is correct in many cases. However, in many cases, it is not. As a parent who has raised boys and girls, I realized that my children were going to get hurt, need a stitch or two, or make bad choices. I choose to let my children play sports, make some of their own choices, with supervision of course, and pay the consequences for the choices they made. My job was to be there when they fell, talk to them about it, and help them get back up. All of my children are outgoing people. Trust me, at times, I wish they were shy, but I am glad they are not. They are all grown and have made their way in this crazy world we live it. Now, do not misunderstand what I am saying. I NEVER let my children do anything when they were growing up that I didn't know about or approve of. However, at times, I would allow them to make a choice that I KNEW wasn't right for them, or they wouldn't like it, but they needed to find that out for themselves. You see, the reason many people have regrets is that they have fears that go back to their childhood. Fears they were never allowed or able to overcome. Let me give you a personal example.
When I was growing up, my parents were afraid of the crazy wild rides. Therefore, they never ALLOWED me to go on one. However, when I was in a teenager, I feared those rides. It was a very fearful experience for me once I started to go on them with my friends because I didn't want to be looked upon as a "CHICKEN." I did push myself and started to go on the rides. When I got older and was married, and we had our children, when they were old enough, I encouraged them to go on the rides with me. Now, they have no fear of them and take their children on them. As for me, I no longer go on them because frankly, I don't like them, and honestly, I probably still have some fear of them. This is just one example. As for regrets, this makes me regret the fact that my parents never took me on them. A much lesser degree of regret, but, regrets, nevertheless.
We have now learned that people have regrets based on factors that caused them to make a particular choice, which is not under their direct control. The problem is never fixed because they never realize what possibly made them make, or not make, a choice which led to the regrets they feel. When it comes to relationships, think about this question as it pertains to your life. How many times did you make a relationship choice that you later regretted? Whether you became involved with someone you knew was not a good influence for you, or whether you failed to go after someone you were interested in? If you want to be honest, the answer would be "MANY TIMES." Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Keep this in mind, you will never learn anything if you never make a choice, or continue to make the same bad choices. You never regret the good choices you made that resulted in a positive outcome. You will only regret the choices you made that had a negative outcome. However, that negative outcome is perceived by you, when, in fact, it may have been a positive outcome. Let me give you another example.
I speak at different groups functions where this topic is raised. I was told a story by a person who was having issues about something they regretted. The story is about a person that fell in love with another. The person they loved had a drinking problem. That problem grew until it started to result in an abusive relationship. Eventually, that person walked away from the relationship and always regretted doing so. The person regretted it because they still felt in love with the other person, who could not beat their alcohol problem. Because there was still love in the mix, that person had regrets. My point being, the reality is, the decision to walk away was the correct choice. Looking at the larger picture, it should be viewed as a POSITIVE choice, not a NEGATIVE choice. Remember, when I started this post, I stated a regret could also be an emotional response? Because the love still existed, that emotion is what caused this person to have regrets. Therefore, the regret was emotionally based. This individual never ACCEPTED their choice as being the correct choice.
School is great for providing us with didactic knowledge. Life is great for providing us knowledge through experience. One or the other alone, doesn't cut it. As people, we required some degree of both to have a balanced life. One last thought to wrap this up. Whether you make your choices based on logic, your faith, or scientific-based data, most everyone believes that things happen for a reason. An action taken results in another. This is a fact. When it comes to relationships, people's paths cross for a reason. At times, the reason might be that one person enters the life of another because one may have something to give that the other needs to learn. That relationship may or may not last. Another theory is, and I happen to believe this:
Two people's romantic path only crosses once. That is their moment in time. Miss that moment, and that time will never occur for those same two people again.
Keeping that thought in mind, ask yourself this, as it could relate to you, or people in general. How many times has someone entered your life that you felt was NOT the right one? You never gave them a chance. Could it be POSSIBLE that you just walked away from your soulmate, or the love of your life?
Finally, why do I believe that? I will tell you my story. A gal I met reached out to me from 3000 miles away. I do not believe in long distance relationships for an extended period of time.They simply do not last, and that is a fact. However, there are the rare exceptions to the rule, but they are extremely rare. I never respond to a potential romantic involvement in these cases. Let's face it, 3000 miles isn't a 20- minute car ride. However, for some reason, I wanted to reach back because something told me I should. I have no clue why. That is not my character, nor choice in these cases, but something told me to, so I did. So there I was. In a situation I would NEVER normally put myself into. In a short time we became very close and knew we wanted to be together. As two adults, we expressed our concerns. Let's not kid ourselves, there was a great deal to discuss, that frankly, many would not have survived that part. We knew what we wanted after a few visits and worked out a plan that worked for us both. Today, we are very happy. So I ask you. If that was our moment in time, and I passed it up, if I did not step out of my comfort zone and make a choice, WOULD I HAVE REGRETS later? You bet I would. Sometimes, there is not a clear cut answer, or maybe no answer at all to every question. Sometimes, you need to take a leap of faith. Nothing in life is guaranteed except for the obvious. Oh yes, we will all pass from this life one day. However, I can tell you there is one more; REGRETS. You can reduce the number by being smarter than what many around you give you credit for. Take in all the advice, but NEVER be swayed by others. Life is your path to walk; so simply walk it. Next week we will take an in-depth look at "WHAT ARE FRIENDS."
Dedicated to Valerie.