“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.” ― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Regrets arises when you live a life less than what you are capable of.
It signifies going against the tide of your inner wisdom.
Regret serves as a reminder your actions are not purposeful and a clearer intent is required.
“Regret is one of the most powerful emotional reminders that change and growth are necessary. In fact, I’ve come to believe that regret is a kind of package deal: A function of empathy, it’s a call to courage and a path toward wisdom,” affirms author Brené Brown in Rising Strong.
You must connect with a deeper motivation if you wish to live a life without regrets. This inner resource summons you to play better than what you have been.
Don’t hide behind excuses when life does not turn out as you hoped, since you are likely to become a victim instead of a victor.
A popular saying is that life is unfair and events happen beyond our understanding. Whilst this may be true, everything happens within a purposeful order, leading to the unfolding of your personal evolution.
We cannot make sense of life because sometimes we don’t have access to certain information.
The father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud said: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” He was affirming, there is no hidden meaning to events and things appear as they are. We add meaning to make sense of the world.
This does not mean life is unfair; rather we are unaware of the significance of those events.
“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.” ― Steve Maraboli
That’s why you should be purposeful in your actions, instead of acting from a place of fear.
When you take inspired action, everything unfolds according to a greater plan. The pieces of the puzzle come together as they should, and not a moment sooner.
I am drawn to the guidance by author Robbie Vorhaus who states in One Less. One More: Follow Your Heart. Be Happy. Change Slowly: “Remember, regrets are not real, although they feel that way. Like fear, regrets are only thoughts in your mind, feedback that the ego is trying to control something it can’t.”
The secret to living without regrets is to act intentionally with what is of importance to you.
If you are dictated by what popular culture considers important, you are not honouring your deepest wisdom, but following the masses. This is likely to result in regrets and uninspired action.
Many of life’s problems result from following others, hoping they hold the key to your happiness.
This seldom works because these same people lead lives of quiet desperation, as the American essayist Henry David Thoreau affirmed.
One need only look to celebrities where fame is considered a measure of happiness. Just because they are adorned by millions, doesn’t mean their life is devoid of problems.
They pay a price for their fame that includes: unfulfilled lives, substance abuse, and psychological pain when trying to uphold a particular image.
“But it is clear that those who fail to risk being who they are, who shun diving into the journey, are the most fear-ridden, regretful, and recriminating. With such a compromised purchase on their own history, they blame others, castigate themselves, or live with debilitating regrets,” states author and Jungian analyst Dr. James Hollis in What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life.
To live without regrets, pursue what you value most and fills your life with joy irrespective of what others consider.
This does not mean your actions should affect other people, though do not be dictated by what they consider important.
People will disapprove how you live your life because it does not conform to their opinions. It may jeopardise their self-esteem since they have not taken action to follow their goals or dreams.
This should not dissuade you from following your bliss as the American mystic, Joseph Campbell reminds us.
Similarly, people are afraid to try new things for fear of failure. When did failure embed itself in our psyche that it stopped us in our tracks?
Failure is merely feedback, alerting you to something that requires additional steps for completion. It should not impact your self-worth unless you allow it to.
Consider the advice from Dr. Alex Lickerman in The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, “We can turn that hurt or regret into a catalyst for personal growth, into motivation for examining the reasons we made the choice in the first place and for asking ourselves how we might change to avoid making the same mistake again.”
“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth.” ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Regret rears its ugly head when your actions are not aligned with your why. This is your underlying motivation clothed in a deeper purpose.
Otherwise, you are likely to plod along and throw caution to the wind, hoping your efforts succeed. If it doesn’t, you experience regret and a blow to your self-esteem since you have not tied it with your intrinsic values.
Living in the present moment offers the opportunity to reconnect with what is important now.
You are constantly at the mercy of your thoughts, recalling the past or expecting the future to arrive as you hope for. Yet, you feel regret because the past does not match the mental image you expect.
Being present is not smooth sailing either because life has a way of pulling you into the future. Your friends, family or co-workers make plans for tomorrow or next week. Your diary is packed full of events months in advance.
It becomes natural to live this way, so your thoughts become fixed on being anywhere but now. Professor and psychologist Philip Zimbardo labels these people future-orientated.
Those who live in the now, experience a deep rapture and joy because they lose their connection to the past and future. They are attentive to the present moment, the source of their being.
Therefore, carve out time to reconnect with yourself and avoid getting caught up in the chaos of everyday life.
Life advances at a fast pace, it’s easy to lose sight of your inner needs until a major crisis appears. By then, it’s too late because the foundations that once held your life together have collapsed, taking your sense of purpose with it.
To reconnect with your inner intelligence, tune in to the voice of your inner self. This may be as: play, movement or any form of creative expression.
The child within wants to be heard. If you dismiss it because things out there distract you, you miss exploring what is vital to your joy and happiness.
I invite you to look unfavourably on regret and live an intentional life.
When you are aligned with something greater, there is no room for regret.
Instead, purposeful action commandeers the helm to lead you toward a life replete with fulfilment and bliss.
Originally published at medium.com