Loving Your Regrets
Regrets. We all have them. It may be something you wish you hadn’t done, or a missed opportunity where you didn’t take action and wish that you had. It might be something that was done to you; you were the victim, yet you still feel regret.
Whether it’s something from last week, last year, or decades ago, you long to make things right – to change direction, to begin again. Yet somehow your attempts to fulfill this longing elude you.
This constant back-and-forth between longing and regret is the “Sorry Cycle.” It’s a pattern many of us live with every day.
Some people have bigger regrets, or dwell on their regrets more than others, but everybody has them.
Mentally rehearsing your regrets over and over in a Sorry Cycle gets you nowhere. Moreover, it does you a lot of harm.
So, what should you do?
Here is some advice that may sound strange: Don’t regret your regrets. That’s right – don’t regret your regrets! Learn to love them because they can teach you how to pursue a life you don’t need to regret.
In her very popular TED talk, journalist Kathryn Schulz concludes with this word of advice: “Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly. It reminds us that we know we can do better.”
The Sorry Cycle is a kind of negative feedback. Through unhealthy rumination, you let your regrets route back to your deeply felt longings in a way that often leads you to make even worse decisions than you did before. The results are about as pleasant as the squeal of a PA system when the sounds coming out of the amp feed back through a microphone.
However, regrets don’t have to produce negative feedback. If you are mindful of what you are doing with your regrets, you can ask God to help you make different choices that turn those regrets into positive feedback.
Danish philosopher Soren Keirkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Take up the challenge to see regret, not as something to regret, but as something to love because it is priceless feedback that allows you to better understand your life.
Reflect: What are your deepest regrets? How might they keeping you stuck in the “Sorry Cycle”?