Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

No regrets

 

Let’s talk regret. I’m not talking the “I should not have watched that 10th consecutive episode of Sons of Anarchy last night” or “potato chips and Diet Coke for lunch was a bad idea” or “I regret wearing this dress on a boat because this shit is inappropriate” types of regret. (For the record, I’ve done all of these). I’m talking the serious type of regret. 

The life altering types of regret. 

The not taking the job type of regret. 

The staying home rather than go on that once in a lifetime trip type of regret. 

The staying in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy for longer than you should type of regret.

The not taking a chance on something, anything, because you were scared type of regret.

It also works in reverse. You know those “I can’t believe I did that” type stuff. 

Regret is a real, powerful emotion. It makes you think and do weird stuff. It can ruin your day, your week, your year. 

I gave up on regret at some point in my 20s. I’d love to tell you that there was this big eye opening moment but there wasn’t. It was simply some self-reflection that made me realize regret, for me, was a fucking waste of time. I can’t change the decision I made, and I made the decision I did because clearly at the time, it was right for me. Would others have done the same? Probably not. But they’re not me. They don’t have to live with my choices. 

I do. 

And I think that’s the crux of my no regrets philosophy. If I’m comfortable with the choice I made, I’m not bothered or saddened or guilty or shamed by it. I don’t feel the need to erase anything or wish I’d done this or that different. I don’t regret relationships or jobs or making that purchase or taking that 3 hour nap because every single choice has led me to where I am now. Everything has taught me a lesson. What I like, who I like, what I want. Regretting any of those parts of my life means denying something’s impact.

Have I done stupid things that maybe I shouldn’t have? Yes. Absolutely, 100% YES. But do I regret them? No. Absolutely not. And believe me, I’m grateful nothing terrible happened as a result of those god-awful choices. Because some of them could have gone incredibly awry.

Also, in dealing with depression and anxiety, having regret is simply stoking the fire. It opens up avenues to dwell and beat myself up and that’s a gateway to an episode. I don’t need anything else making it worse. Especially not something I can control. 

Let’s be clear: regret is multifaceted. The regret I’m talking here is based on choices or perceived loss of opportunity, not on time (think time spent with grandparents or kids). And you should never, ever do anything you’re not comfortable with because you think you might regret if you don’t. That’s just ridiculous. And pop psychology will lead you to believe that you should do those things simply because you don’t want a lifetime of regrets. That’s a steaming pile of shit. 

You’re an adult. You do what you want. 

And live without regret for doing so.

live-without-regret

 

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14 Comments

  1. kathy @ more coffee, less talky

    YES; preach. As long as you’re comfortable with the choice(s) you make, that’s all that matters. Everyone else can suck it.
    kathy @ more coffee, less talky recently posted…Orlando 2016My Profile

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  2. Jess

    I’m not sure how well I succeed, but I try for the most part to live without regret. Everything leads to where you are, and even my terrible points in life have somehow gotten me here, so it’s not all bad. My regrets now are usually minor – like, “Why did I say that?” and replay it over in my head. But I can also laugh at that stuff now, because I say dumb things sometimes and get over it.
    Jess recently posted…40 Weeks: BumpdatesMy Profile

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  3. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    I like the idea of living regret-free, but it’s a concept I have more trouble with in practice. Kind of like forgiveness. It sounds great, but the how of it is the hard part. I don’t know how to make that transition into letting go. And I do occasionally use regret to convince myself to do things, but in a good way, if that’s possible. Like when I don’t want to go out or do a social thing and my brain is telling me to cancel last minute, I ask myself, “How will I feel about this when it’s over?” Usually the answer is I’ll enjoy myself more if I go, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, and if I stay home it will feel anticlimactic and like I missed out. But that’s not the life-altering kind of regret, and it certainly wouldn’t bother me years later that I hadn’t attended [insert whatever social thing].

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  4. Rebecca Jo

    Regret… it plays hand in hand with my depression… its a word that can mean different things for everyone.
    I wish I didnt have it.

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  5. alyssa

    I for the most part agree, and no matter which way I go, I believe *dwelling* on regret is always a waste of time. But for me, the only things I have regrets over are things that WERE 100% the right choice at the time but had long-term consequences I should have anticipated/prepared for better, and didn’t. Leaving my job last year, specifically. It was the right thing for my health and sanity at the time, but there have been countless times in the year since that I was just as unhappy and miserable as I was at the old job—this time without the benefits I was receiving from having a FT job and stable income. So I think for me, leaving without a better idea of what I was getting into will always be a regret, but the very best I can do with that is try not to beat myself up for it every day when things are hard. It’s too easy to though.
    alyssa recently posted…I Don’t Have a Five Year PlanMy Profile

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  6. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    As you know, I’m totally on your wavelength on this – I think every decision builds us into who we are, so I don’t regret the bad ones.

    I will say even though I don’t really believe in regret like that, I do try to anticipate regret at this point in my life – like…if I don’t do this, will I regret it? The answer is usually yes and I usually do it. LOL So I sort of use fear of regret as a motivator.

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  7. Teh Megan

    This has been my goal since I became conscious and able to make my own decisions. As hard as I’ve tried to explain it to others, I usually fail miserably, so I’m thankful for your words to accurately describe what I mean to say.

    This has been the single most important thing that I’ve practiced throughout my adulthood because it means that I let go of the decisions that may not have been the best because they are lessons. I can learn from them and move on. Whereas with regret, I would never be able to let those decisions go, despite being unable to change them or the outcome.

    Life feels lighter with no regrets.

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  8. Linda Sheridan

    Great post! If I made different choices, I would not be where I am today- pretty darn content. Very grateful !
    Love, Steph’s Momma!

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  9. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    Ahhhh … regrets. Do I have them? Yup. Should I them? Maybe. It’s murky in my mind because, as you mentioned, depression and anxiety can take simple (and normal) regret and magnify by a 1000%. So what might have been a “that was a dumb” moment becomes something bigger and more significant than it really is . This I do want to avoid and let go of – the over-dwelling of choices, past and present. Normally, my mindset is much aligned with what you’re advocating. I am aware of past choices that may not have been the best, but I am who I am and where I am because of them. Now I just focus too much on the mistake. Work in progress.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…Book Olympics: My Gold Medal BooksMy Profile

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  10. Nadine

    Love this. I try not to focus on things I regret not doing in the past because it’s not like I can go back and change that shit. These days I fear I will regret not taking chances to find out what it is that I am passionate about doing so I can work towards that instead of staying complacent in my career and I think after baby comes and things settle in a routine I will take my chance to start working towards that. But other than that? I try not to regret anything anymore. I ask myself if I will regret doing or not doing something when the opportunity arises and take that in consideration. If I do or don’t do it….I just move on and try not to dwell.

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  11. Megan

    Perfectly said. Thank you for an awesome eye-opening post.

    Reply
  12. texerinsydney

    I dance all around (and sometimes with) regrets. From my own self-awareness examinations, I think there are some decisions that I am not comfortable with…that’s when regret can sneak in. But, I agree that those bad decisions made me who I am today. To regret them, or wish they didn’t happen, only means that I’d have changed my path, my journey, and I’m not sure where I’d be if that was the case. And, overall, I’m pretty happy with where I am. Not so happy that I want to be stagnant. I want to continue to grow and learn and evolve. And, you know what? That may mean I make bad/regretful decisions in the future too…but that’s my journey.
    texerinsydney recently posted…Pumpkin SwapMy Profile

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  13. Allison

    You reminded me of a post I wrote on regret last year (or the year before? who knows) and I shared the exact same sentiment as you. I made mistakes like everyone else but I don’t regret any of the things I did or didn’t do because I truly believe mistakes lead you to other places. (Cliche? Maybe). My mom inspired my post because she was a homemaker/stay at home mom and always got asked if she ever regretted not going to work and her answer is that she has no regrets about anything. Not one sole thing.

    Good message, my friend!

    Reply
  14. kristen

    i did a lot of stupid things and let a lot of stupid awful things happen to me and around me, and to people i loved, when i was younger. i regret those. not a day goes by that i don’t think about what could have happened or how someone’s life would be different. i know i can’t change it, i know i did what i did because of who i was, but i hate it. i still hate it. all that being said, i think that turned me into someone who can live relatively regret free, because i learned at a somewhat young age how much my decisions matter, so i better be okay with living with them. i don’t regret anything after like, 17 or 18. i do try and use regret as a reason to do things, like i’d rather regret doing something than not doing something, but i rarely regret doing the thing. anyway. great post!

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