What does regret mean to you?  For some, regrets come from the things they have done.  For others, regrets come from things they have not done.  In both cases, there is likely the desire to turn back time.

For the longest time, I lived a life full of regrets.  It was more so being conscientious of every action I took and not feeling satisfied of for many actions.   I was only reassured of my actions if someone else authoritative, approved.  I didn’t have that sense of confidence that told me that everything I was doing was OK.  So often times I viewed my actions as mistakes that shouldn’t have happened or could have been prevented, and therefore regrettable.  I don’t know if it’s a cultural thing to have this perfectionism.. or this false idea that we are all 100% responsible for everything that happens to us in our life time.

When I did do something wrong or wished I did do something I should’ve done, I was really hard on myself, big time.  A lot of situations haunted me more than it should have and I’d linger on regrets for years, desperately wishing I could turn back time and change everything.  I remember watching Butterfly Effect and thinking, Wow, that’s exactly how I think.  Every decision I make, creates a situation, a moment, an event, that happens, which causes another event to happen, like a domino effect.  What if I did this or that?  What if I didn’t?  Will I regret my decisions?

Hypothetical situation:  You crave cheesecake.  You want it so bad you walk 2 miles to the store to get some cheesecake.  Turns out the store did not have cheesecake.  Bummer.  You wished that you didn’t walk 2 miles to find out that there wasn’t cheesecake and thought that you should have called to check first.  Then you disappointingly walk back another 2 miles, but trip onto the pavement, sprain an ankle, then really really regret acting upon your cheesecake craving.  Then you think what if you have taken the car or wasn’t so upset that you didn’t see the ditch?  It turns in to self blame, and you rerun the whole situation in your mind and what you could have done to have a different outcome.

Another kind of regret is missed opportunities.. either because I didn’t think I could or failed to ignore those who said I couldn’t.  Then because I didn’t do it, it’s too late.  That’s the worse kind of regret– knowing that a different outcome would have resulted from doing something.  When we all strongly desire to try something eventually in our life time, we expect to get to it when the time is right.  But life happens, things happen, crises especially, that sometimes prevents us from living out the situation we wanted, and then we sometimes look back and think to ourselves… “If only I had done it earlier.”

After awhile, I realized, every situation, event, luck or lack of is a learning experience.  It took a long long time to forgive myself of all the mistakes I’ve regretted in life.   Also it took a long time to realize that I can’t control every event, or turn back time like Ashton Kutcher.   The feeling of regret and self blame did not lead me anywhere when there was no reason to feel that way.  Also, if I took away all the bad or traumatic situations in my life, I wouldn’t have built up all the strength I did to prepare me for everything else that came afterwards.  Not to sound cliché, but what didn’t kill me, truly made me a stronger person.  I’ve been through worse, this should be cake.

Sometimes it took some bad to realize the meaning of good in my life.   So even if I made a mistake, that revealed to me the cold hard truth about betrayal, for example.  Despite any pain upon me or others, there is no reason to feel regret.  If I didn’t do this, then, I wouldn’t have learned the truth.

These days, I have very little to no regrets.  A lot of the things I have done, if I could turn back time, I would do it again.  I would go through the situations, good and bad, because I’d know it would be one of life’s lessons learned.  Likely, if things were changed to be different, just like in Butterfly Effect, I might miss the opportunity to learn something important.
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