Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Danger of Regret

A man that has taught me much in my early years as a teenager and I am proud to say is a beloved friend to this day, Benson Medina, has his own blog where he writes beautifully insightful and positive  pieces that are always exceptionally inspirational.  His posting he did for today seemed particularly fitting for the beginning of the New Year and he blessed me to go ahead and re-post it here.  You can read Benson's wit and wisdom on his blog Any Moment.  I promise this man's spirit and outlook on life are very infectious and are infused within the writing he graces us with his sharing.  I highly recommend taking a bit and perusing his writings there!   Happy New Year to all, and thanks to you, Benson, for being the person that you are!  I love you, bro!

The Danger of Regret

Guest Post by Benson Medina

It’s the last day of the year and I’m reflecting back over the events of 2010.  Our family has a picture calendar for 2010 so I’ve spent some time flipping through the months and thinking about what happened on certain dates.  All the real “highlights” have to do with family (my niece Anela placed in the Miss Kaua’i contest in February, my other niece Lindsey graduated from college in May, I saw my son Caine for the first time in a year in October, etc.) and relationships in my life.   Though there are events over the past year that could have turned out differently, I’m very careful not to take a negative perspective.
I don’t want to have regrets.

The problem with regrets is that it’s beginning of a very damaging mindset that can have very catastrophic consequences down the road.  Here’s a simple illustration that we can all relate to:  let’s say I applied for a job that I’m certain I’m going to get, but somehow I don’t get it.   I look at the situation with regret which opens the door to other negative emotions: fear, anger, resentment, loss of confidence, etc.   If I’m not able to shake those emotions off, then I start to constantly “ruminate” over the situation (ruminate means you have a tendency to obsess on negative events).   Beyond that, there’s guilt and shame waiting to crush my self-esteem into long-lasting, permanent pain which now affects every sector of my life.

You might think that example a bit extreme, but its a constant cycle that’s been playing itself out in our lives since we were children.  A lot of us have carried pain for decades over situations that we view as “regrettable.”  Our “higher self” really wants the “lesson” so we can go forward in a positive way, but “regret” blocks the lesson because it makes us focus on “what we didn’t get.”

I believe that our happiness as humans is connected to our ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to focus on the things that are present in our lives.  The Universe has already shown us that “whatever we focus on will expand” and that’s enough to make us very wary of how regret can seep into our thinking.  We also lose sight of the role pain plays as one of our greatest teachers because regret doesn’t allow us to embrace a negative experience as something potentially positive.

If worry is the negative use of our imagination, then regret is the negative use of our memory.   The New Year gives us a chance to focus on the life we want and not the life we didn’t get.



Annie said...

Well said and I think we should mail this to the guest who "enjoyed" our hospitality during the holidays. Sadly, she is so caught up in the past, that she is missing the present.

T. Paine said...

I have a few regrets in my life, but I try not to dwell upon them. It serves no useful purpose and truly does remove oneself from enjoying the present.

I am sorry for you houseguest that has not learned this yet. Hopefully your Christmas was not dappened to greatly by this person's negativity towards the past, my friend!