Let's continue our exploration of regret and hindsight. The first step in using hindsight was to not use it. The second step is to use it in order understand the essence of what you've lost and what you were hoping to gain. Now's the stage where you explore why you feel regret and why you wish you could go back and change something.
Regret is the catalyst for hindsight, and when applied intentionally can be awareness building, wisdom increasing and life enhancing.
In the cases of big hurts and wrongdoing, hindsight used as punishment for your choices and transgressions towards others, is the wearing of guilt, without the courage to accept responsibility and move forward. No amount of looking back and wishing, will set it right.
Hindsight when used to avoid the present, is an assault on your future.
Regret and hindsight are only useful when they create accountability for our actions, encourage us to make amends and to learn from the past.
There will always be paths not taken, mistakes made and challenges to face. Of course we regret things - we say things we wish we hadn’t, we make a choice we wish we could take back, we put our foot in our mouth and we make an unfortunate decision to wear lime green in a family photo. To say that you should never regret again is unrealistic and essentially, unwise. Life will always contain some regret -small regrets like: Why did I wear this? To the big regrets where we hurt others or ourselves. Have no regrets about having regret, because taking chances, trying something new and branching out, always comes with a risk. It's the human condition to measure choices against consequences and wonder...
But what are we wondering about? We're wondering if the path not taken, that thing said or not said, would make life better, now. Would we feel better, happier or more fulfilled if we'd walked a different way?
A lot of the pain that comes with regret is the feeling that you've lost, or been denied something that you really wanted.
The essence of your dream can still be yours. You can find it again, and when regret is applied in this way, it's in the service of understanding what you wanted to gain. What feeling? How were you hoping that choice would add value to your life? You may never get the job back, take the other path, re-do a conversation and so on, but it's possible to understand what you were hoping to attain from the choice and to learn from it.
“This is the book I never read ~~ These are the words I never said ~~ This is the path I'll never tread ~~ These are the dreams I'll dream instead” ~Annie Lennox
What did I want to feel?
What feelings am I missing out on as a result of the event that I regret?
What would that experience or a different outcome have allowed me to believe about myself?
How would my life be different? Better? Enriched?
Once you've used hindsight to ask yourself these questions in relation to your regret, begin to think about how you can create that feeling and experience now. The specific way that you tried to fulfill this feeling in the past may not have worked out, but you can begin to choose other ways to create these feelings today.
Regret is an opportunity, and when used with compassion and clarity can be a catalyst for change. Using hindsight in this way and asking these questions, means that regret will be used, not abused, and the essence of what you've lost can be found.
As we wrap up another year, consider how can you use hindsight to support you in finding the essence of your lost dreams, missteps, and disappointments. How can you make a new choice from what you've learned? How can regret support you,not limit you?
Thanks for reading! If you enjoy this blog and find value in it, please forward it to a friend.