‘No regrets’ is one of the most commonly said phrases in modern days, and one I struggle to agree with, to be totally honest. The most widely known, and in my opinion, simplistic meaning of this phrase seems to be akin to ‘I have made mistakes, but I accept them as part of making me who I am today’. Regret is largely perceived as a bad or negative emotion; to dwell on your bad decisions and think about how much you wish you hadn’t done what you did, so much so that you stop yourself from enjoying your now because you’re living in the past.
To this extent, ‘no regrets’ has almost become a celebration of living your best life and a statement of your true happiness with your current life. As if regretting anything you have ever said or done somehow makes you unhappy with your life and dissatisfied with how it turned out.
My perspective on having regrets
I agree that everything I have done has led me to where I am, and changing the past, changing the things I regret, would change the present. But I also believe it’s possible to use your regrets to be a better person, as a tool for reflection and growth, not self punishment and shame. So yes, I’m proud to have regrets. I will always regret hurting other people with my actions or my words, even if unintentionally.
Everyone has regrets, so instead of denying yours, turn them into something positive. To have regrets doesn’t have to mean that you want to go back in time and change what you did, and by doing so changing the outcome of your life. It can mean that you understand that it wasn’t your finest moment and you regret being that person in that moment. What’s done is done, and yes, having regrets won’t change what you did, but learning from your mistakes and regrets will – it’s likely to make you a better person.
In my opinion, having regrets is not a waste of time, as long as it’s not a negative emotion riddled with feelings of guilt and shame. It’s a beautiful way of allowing yourself to use what you know now to stop repeating mistakes of the past.
The most important things in our lives leave us vulnerable to doubts, worries and regrets, because we all want to get it right. So, as parents, having regrets is very natural; we all want to be a good parent, raise good children, give them the best life possible. Having regrets doesn’t make you a bad parent, it actually shows how much of an intentional parent you are. So acknowledge your regrets, learn from them, forgive yourself and try to do better next time.
The things I regret
I regret letting routine control our lives when my first child was a baby. I’ve learnt a lot from that and because of that, I can recognise when to let go and when to be strict with our routine.
I also regret wishing certain phases away. When you get to the other side and your children have moved on to the next phase, you miss dearly how little they were. I had a very difficult baby, but I still miss her as a baby. I wished she would get to the next ‘easier’ stage so quickly, but I regret that. I’m still learning from that regret, I find myself wishing time away sometimes when things are hard, but I’m more aware of it and I know that if I do that, I will regret it.
Despite all my regrets, I forgive myself because I know I was doing the best with the information and experience I had at the time. I was doing what I thought was right and I was never trying to get it wrong. Learning from my regrets has led me to make changes that have improved not only my life, but my family as a whole.
I believe regret is what you make of it. If you see it as a negative emotion, it will eat away your enjoyment of your life. On the other had, if you turn it into something positive, you are welcoming feelings of reflection and forgiveness, allowing yourself to grow and always strive to be better.
How do you feel about having regrets?