When I was younger, I loved the song by Edith Piaf — “Non, je ne regrette rien” Edith Piaf had been through so much in her life, starting out as the child of a prostitute, raised on the streets of Paris, growing up to be an amazing singer, but she had multiple health issues and much pain. That little 4 foot 11" her could sing so proudly that she regretted nothing, well it was inspiring. But is it real? Can we ever have no regrets?
I did a short piece earlier on Medium and talked a little about Edith here:
Do you have regrets? I know I do
I have been remembering a lot of times in my past lately, lots of memories. Part of it is telling my son things that…
Of course not! Only psychopaths have no regrets! (Well they may regret the times their nefarious schemes didn’t work, but that’s another article…).
Remember, regrets exist for a reason, they remind us that we could have done better than we did. We feel bad about something we did or didn’t do because we have a conscience. Most of us want to do the right thing by someone. But we are all human and sometimes we don’t.
While you can’t get rid of regrets (they are like memories, after all, part of you), you decide how loud they get to be. If you, like me, find yourself returning to feelings of regret and thinking of them (even ruminating on them), and feeling bad, but to no end, it’s time to quiet those regrets. They are not serving you and you aren’t getting anywhere just revisiting them and feeling bad.
Here’s how I came to grips with my regrets:
- Made amends with the people I might have hurt. (this may surprise you, my one friend didn’t even remember something I felt bad about from years ago).
- Decided to learn from the regret and treat the next person better, or make sure I help someone else do the thing I wished I had.
My example: I felt terrible that our dog didn’t get diagnosed with cancer until it was too late. That stayed with me for a while.
My resolution: Know that we did the best we could with the information we had at the time. But resolved to share info if someone had a pet who was not being diagnosed correctly. Tell them…