No Regrets Please!
Guest editorial by Dr. Laura B. Lyons
Since life does not have a rewind button, one of the most significant
challenges that we face in the process of living is putting regrets behind
us. Life does not provide a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The life
we are now living is the only one that we will ever have on earth. Therefore,
it is important not to spend precious time "crying over spilled milk,"
or bemoaning and lamenting the bridges we have crossed, wishing we had
done it differently.
Although time tends to heal our wounds, and broken hearts do indeed mend,
the sting from hurts eventually fade and the pain of misery ultimately
subsides. Still, most of us hanker from time to time for the power to
change the past. Regrets are a common emotion that is generally unwelcome.
How many times have you kicked yourself for not marrying your first love,
for not going on to college, or for remaining in that dead end job so
many years (that you now feel it is too close to retirement to quit).
You have probably admonished yourself a thousand times for not speaking
out when you felt you should have or for speaking out when you should
have kept your mouth shut!
Few of us are immune from the heart rendering anger and frustration that
stems from the nagging of bygones that will not go away. I, for one, am
a master at the art of emotionally beating up on myself for what I should
have done. How we handle our "regrets" is the key to making them work
for us. I have learned to use regrets as a "motivator" to accomplish what
I have not yet done, instead of berating myself for the past. There was
a time when I could not forgive myself for not completing a goal. The
obsession was so great that I could not be in the company of others who
had attained their goals. Now, I have allowed my regrets to propel me
to achieve the things that I had hoped to gain, instead of haunting me.
Webster's dictionary defines "regrets" as, sorrow aroused by circumstances
beyond one's control or power to "repair". However, regret is much more,
it is a relative to guilt, a close cousin to anxiety and an acquaintance
to disappointment, on terms with self pity and it feels a lot like worry
(worry deals with the future, regrets pertain to the past). The author,
Tobbie Sullivan, states "more than any other emotion, regret squanders
your time, upsets your equilibrium and exhausts your psychic energy".
Sullivan also writes, "the single prescription for dealing with regret
"is a dose of self acceptance and forgiveness". If you do not expect to
be perfect, you cannot hate yourself, because you are not. If you do not
expect complete control, you would not blame yourself when plans go awry."
Learn to play the hand that life deals you. Take life as it comes and
develop an empathic "so what" attitude. Ralph U. Sockman aptly sums up
the message, "let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the
regrets of yesterday, and borrowing in advance on the troubles of tomorrow."
Remember the admonition by the nineteenth century poet John Greenberry
Whittier, "of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it
might have been." So, give yourself a break and move on "NO REGRETS PLEASE!!"