We all have regrets in our lives. Regrets are a part of life. If we can look at the incident that caused our regret objectively, often we can learn from the incident and reduce the number of regrets later in our lives.
What causes us to have regrets?
I would argue that most of our regrets are self-inflicted.
Regrets often result of either a poor decision we made or inaction we took when a opportunity was before us.
For some of us we regret either a harsh word we said to a child, a friend, a classmate, a teacher, a co-worker, or a lover. Others it might be the missed business opportunity or relationship.
At one time or another in my life, I have had regrets that were caused by each of the above-mentioned reasons.
My biggest regret in life
When I was in 9th grade, one of my good school friends was named Brian Donovan.
Brian, along with Ron, and I always hung out together. We rode the bus together, we sat together at lunch, and we always paled around on the school grounds in the morning before class.
Brian had a learning disability of some kind. He was in 8th grade but still reading at a 5th grade level. But that did not bother him. H e still dreamed of earning a high school diploma.
A severe learning disability is a large enough obstacle between a student and a high school diploma, but for Brian there was an additional obstacle that stood between himself and a high school diploma,
Brian also battled Cystic Fibrosis. His talked openly about his CF, and despite his coughing, he never let his CF slow him down or stop him from doing what he wanted to do.
I admired Brian for his determination to overcome both his learning disability and his CF to pursue a high school diploma.
By spring break, I knew that we would be going to different schools the following year and that troubled me. I didn’t want out friendship to end in a few months, I wanted it to continue through the summer and beyond.
All I needed to do was to give Brain my home phone number. All I needed to do is ask for his. All I needed to do is to tell him I hoped or wanted to stay in touch during the summer.
Because I didn’t do any of those things, I acquired a regret.
Why didn’t I give Brain my phone number or ask for his? Why didn’t I tell him I wanted to keep in touch?
I suffered from low self-confidence and self-esteem. I was somewhat shy and insecure in high school. I was afraid of rejection and/or being made fun of by my peers.
I paid a high price for that fear, Since I last saw Brain I have struggled with the question “what would have happened if….”. Believe me, that is one of the worst questions you could live with in life.
How to learn a life lesson from a regret
Regrets, if we pay attention to them, they can teach us valuable lessons.
Regrets can prepare us with both knowledge and experience to handle a situation differently when a similar situation occurs in our lives.
My biggest regret taught me that I must take risks in life. I learned that if I shy away from risks, I will always wonder “wait if” and that is the worse way to spend the rest of my life – wondering how thing would have been different if I had taken a risk.