Should We Regret or Forget?

We all want to live our lives without regrets and to leave our lives without them, or so we think we do.  Regrets are a method of measurement for the happiness within our lives. They are a key aspect of discussion whilst reflecting on our own lives and even whilst reflecting on somebody else’s.

“She lived her life with no regrets. How fantastic?”

We’ve all heard or said something along those lines before. But is it really such a bad thing to have regrets? Personally, I think not. Life is all about trial and error and eventual progression but my point is that the errors are significant and inevitable parts of life’s process. It’s natural to make mistakes in life and having a regret shows that you faltered in some way, but that you learnt from your mistake enough to regret it and to go on to change your ways. There’s certainly nothing bad about that now, is there? In a sense, you make your mistake and create a new outlook on your own life by regretting it. Obviously there are times where people loosely regret something and go on to do it again.

“I regret getting so pissed last night. I won’t be mixing my drinks again.”

We’ve probably all said it and we’ve probably all found ourselves at a party a few weeks later convincing ourselves that mixing our drinks is now absolutely definitely certainly a good idea and we’ve all gone on to spend the following day with our heads in the toilet once again. But I’m referring to long term regrets, the types that really urge a person never to make the same mistake again.

“I regret getting married so young. I will be more careful next time.”

Celebrity therapist Marisa Peer persists that regrets can become burdens that jeopardise your future happiness, and I agree with this to a certain extent. If a person regrets something they have done to the extreme that they repeat their actions over and over in their heads and are unable to forgive themselves then it will definitely begin to haunt them and therefore jeopardise their happiness in life. The key is to acknowledge your mistake and in regretting it, not torture yourself but learn from it – or to take a positive from a negative in simpler terms. At the end of the day, the pain of regretting something that you didn’t do could be worse than regretting something you did. Bombarding your own mind with what-ifs is torture. So even if you have made a mistake, at the time it was probably what you wanted or perhaps what felt right and even if it was the wrong thing to do, it probably didn’t feel like it at the time. So I guess I’m saying that in my opinion, it is okay to make a mistake, regret it and start afresh. There’s nothing wrong with starting afresh, and everyone deserves a second chance right?

Personally, I have made plenty of mistakes over the course of my life so far and I’ve wasted far too much time hating myself for my own actions. I probably spent two seconds making the mistake, and two years hating myself for it. That’s time I’ll never get back – time I could have spent making happier memories and time in which I could have been correcting my mistakes. Torturing myself for messing up was my way of life until about two years ago, when I realised that life is too short to chastise yourself. Even if they were big errors, they’ve contributed to who you are today. It’s okay to mess up and learn from it. To mess up and repeat is not. But if you’ve cocked up and changed your ways then your error has made you a better person. So take chances in life, go with your heart, live for the moment and when you do make mistakes (and believe me, you will), forgive yourself, learn from it and make a change. You’ll definitely become a better person but more importantly, a happier one.

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