It’s dreadful to imagine that you might look back at life someday, only to realize that you’ve wasted it.
In fact, what could be more painful than knowing that you could’ve lived better, and earned all the happiness and experiences you wish for?
You live carefully.
Cautiously enough to prevent messing it up.
You make you wise decisions, avoid doing what can trouble you and try to be as picky as you can be – whether it be in your education, job or relationships.
Yet, your attempts fail.
You feel like a fool and blame yourself when things go wrong. “I should’ve done this,” you curse yourself. “I shouldn’t have done that,” you whimper and drown in remorse.
The whole thing gets into your mind. You can’t get over it. What you did haunts you. What you could’ve done laughs at you in the face.
The missed opportunities, mistakes of the past, foolish decisions – all stand right in front of you to remind you how you’ve ruined your life.
That’s when your regrets begin.
This is how regrets are born
When the outcomes are as you wish, you feel grateful. If they aren’t, you feel regretful.
You barely question the right things.
Your decisions only seem to be a matter of concern when they go wrong and bring the undesired outcomes.
If you do something and it succeeds, you won’t look back. You’d feel like a winner. But if the same deed fails, you’d regret having done it.
You don’t regret what you did but rather the outcomes, that too, only when they’re undesired and against your expectations.
Here’s what makes you look back
There are always two roads.
The first road is the one you take. Another one, which you could’ve taken but didn’t. You don’t stop looking back at the road you didn’t choose.
However, you think about the other road only until everything becomes alright, after which there’s no looking back.
You question the road you take only when it takes you astray, or else you don’t even think whether you should’ve chosen it.
The problem starts when you think you had chosen the wrong road.
You keep pondering what might have happened if you had chosen the other road. You can’t stop wondering about “what might have happened if…” because your life sucks and you wish for something better.
Who knows, you may have made a plan that was likely to land you into trouble, no matter what the road you choose.
When you choose a road “A,” you can’t stop thinking about “B.” When you take “B,” you still want to know about “A.” You keep straddling between your choices.
It always feels like the grass was greener on the other side. You could’ve had it. But you missed the chance. So you regret it.
Nobody knows if the grass was any greener though.
A simple thing people often forget
You only regret the decisions that go wrong; and something in life always goes wrong. No matter what the road you choose, you’re bound to have regrets.
Start a business while everyone else is opposing you. You won’t stop celebrating your glory if it succeeds. What if it crashes? You’d find a corner to hide and sob silently.
Marry the love of your life. You’ll feel blessed if the relationship lasts long enough. In case it dawns on you that it was merely an impulsive decision you made as a teenager, you’ll be buried under your regret.
If your college major helps you become a millionaire 5 years later, you’ll feel like a victor and give yourself a pat on the back. If the same degree keeps you jobless years after graduation then you’ll obviously regret.
What does this all mean?
It means that you have no control over the fact that whether you’ll have regrets in life. If something has to go wrong, it’ll go wrong. You can only play your part and await the outcomes.
You choose our own regrets
All your decisions and actions have no guaranteed outcomes. You’re likely to make blunders, often.
Each time you do something, you’re unknowingly choosing you chances of one regret over the other.
The only way to overcome regrets in life
Accept your life the way it is.
That’s the only solution to get over your regrets.
Your life could’ve been different. You could’ve made better decisions and avoided several pitfalls.
But do you think your life could’ve been ‘perfect’ the other way? Or that life really could’ve been better if you had made wiser decisions?
But it’s just a fantasy that never happened. You did what you thought was right even then, in the past.
Do you want to lament because you can’t fix what’s gone? Cry and shed the tears you’ve been holding within, if doing it makes you feel better.
Will you be able to fix something even if you get another chance? You had a chance, you did what you thought to be right and life gave you the outcomes.
The present is just perfect.
The present is because of what you did, what you were and because the combination of a few other factors have no control over.
You have what you deserve.
You are right where you should be.
So, what’s next?
There’s a nice thing about being wherever you are in life – you can grow from here.
You might not have acted wise earlier, but you don’t ever deserve self-inflicted pain either.
Change what doesn’t feel alright. You have enough shots. You can make things go the way you want. Accept what has happened.
We’re all busy doing it – trying hard to not look back and moving on happily. That’s the only thing that makes sense. Life’s good.