The advantages of living in regret are about ZERO. This blog could in fact end here as the essential has just been said. Instead, I will abuse your innocence and continue to rub some salt into the wound, beat the dead horse or simply bust your balls relentlessly (this last metaphor has been offered by a male client of mine so in case you are a woman, I’ll find something else to bust!).
Just to be clear. Before the first of the class out there will raise the hand in a “hey! wait a second” mode, let me elucidate: there is nothing wrong with the feeling of regret as such. As part of the known human emotional spectrum, it is just perfect to acknowledge its value as probably there is some critical internal communication going on there. It is when we elect regret as the paramount majesty of our life that things start going banana. By giving regret the sceptre on us, the dictator takes over and overrules common sense and self-love.
Confused? Let’s define regret: Regret is the expression of sadness/disappointment/frustration about a past event that failed our expectations. Basically, we fucked it up and we mourn failure.
From here, we have 2 ways. Maybe we have more ways but I am a big fan of simplification, so I stick to 2:
- Way 1: Living in regret mode
All right, this is the easy one as it is the most instinctive. Your coward saboteur loves this option and will always choose for this. Why? It gives us soooo much gratitude to feel like shit about something we have no control on, doesn’t it?. Because suddenly we have a scapegoat. That single event in our past life to which we can delegate and attribute the guilt for our frustrations, inadequacies and all the other fun stuff our saboteurs adore. When you are living in regret you are basically accepting to live an incomplete life, you are whipping your back to blood and get sexually aroused in saying: “Oohh poor me :-(( “. You are telling yourself and others: “My life (or a part of it) would have been better, richer and greater if this or that had happened, if I had taken “the right decision”, if I hadn’t been that stupid”. If life was an horror movie, you would be the fat guy that gets killed first.
I mentioned above that living in regret has zero benefits. In fact I am not telling the whole truth here, as in fact your saboteur will actually feast like a party animal on steroids. So I’ll just mention a few ok? Just a few I promise:
- You will have a great excuse not to progress further: dreams, wishes, ambitions do not have the right to exist as they got erased by what happened in the past
- You will exempt yourself of the burden of accountability: you can no longer change what happened in the past and therefore you cannot be responsible for what happens to you in the present
- You are doomed. Just deal with the fact that there could have been another life for you and you just got this pantomime instead
- Way 2: Living in re-set mode
Now I bust your balls. This one is about responsibility and accountability. It is when you choose the difficult path towards confidence. Here you accept you are the CEO of your own enterprise. Or if you’d prefer, the leader, king, queen, ruler, god, prophet, sultan, captain. I can’t care the least. You just got this one life and you decide what to make out of it. Decide to relegate your crap ego to the abyss of amnesia and elect your guide ego as the one who is going to take you out of the mud into a dry, warmer and safer place. Prefer reset over regret. The past is the school we learn from to live a better now and a great future. As there is no way you can control what happened, what’s the sense of it? You can instead control it from now and choose to do it differently.
You are not infallible. And why on earth could you? So do the world a favour: get a life and be human. If you could have done it differently, you would have done it. But you couldn’t. You can now.
And what are the advantages:
- You will acquire the art of using regret just for about 10 minutes, or the time you need to say: “damn – ok – it failed – I owe it, I’ll fix it”
- You will know how to learn from what you can no longer influence and in fact create impact for yourself and others
- You will inspire others in doing the same and contribute to spread the gifts of courage and accountability
I can think of 100 more, but I’ll give you 3 for the sake of symmetry.
When in doubt, remember the words of Ruud Gullit, popular Dutch football player who played for AC Milan in the 80’s. When Interviewed by an Italian journalist about some tactical mistakes made in the previous match, he replied: “In “The Netherlands we say: If my grandmother had a willy, she would have been my grandfather”. Best goal he ever scored. (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYYhzwUafLU)