Friday, February 11, 2011

soul food friday ~ thinking about regret

It's been ages since I've done one of these posts. Perhaps holiday mode makes you less philosophical? Not so much of the existential angst...or the eggs(istential) for that matter! We covered a lot last year on a Friday...success, privilege, love, loss, learning and quite a bit else that resonated with some of you. 
Do you remember old blue eyes and that song about doing it his way and the ..."regrets I've had a few" bit? Well this post is not about him. But it is about regret. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm not sure why...perhaps it's the books I've been reading, or another year beginning, or maybe just my age.
I have had a very lucky life...blessed in many ways and I am happy where I am right now. And like Frank, it's often a case of "regrets too few to mention". But I do have one rather substantial one. I won't share the private details of that regret because it's, well...private. Not like the regrets I have on an almost daily basis...regretting eating that last chocolate, regretting saying yes to an invitation when I really should have said no. Having that icecream at the movies on Wednesday night, that bad idea for a new hairstyle, the pair of trousers I bought that of course I would fit into one day! Nope, nothing like that. This thing that I regret changed lives. 
And yes, in many ways it has led me to where I am today...but still. That can be a bit of a cop out can't it?
So what is regret? Is it ok to have some of it; not all the time of course and not over trivialities...but sometimes, for somethings?
I looked in all the usual places for a definition. Dictionaries give very bland ones. Self help books all tell me that it's something you shouldn't do. And then I came across this quote...and put it on a pretty picture just for you :)
And I thought...yes. That's right. Despite what I think we've been led to believe...that regret is a useless 'emotion' (and a lot of the time I would agree) I think there is a purpose in feeling regret.  And that purpose is to make us meet responsibility head on. Look very closely at our regret, roll it around in our head and our heart and be honest with ourselves. I'm not advocating beating ourselves up...of course not (there's plenty of others eager to do that I'm sure!), and I know I'm not always as wise as I'd like to be...even now,  but if appropriate regret can help us gain some insight into ourselves and help others who might actually learn something from our experiences, then I'm all for it. 
Geez, I hope I don't regret this post... :)
image 1; image 2; image 3 by me - green cape NSW


  1. I have a lot of regrets ... things I've said which have hurt people; things I've done which I wish I hadn't; things I should have said to people at a particular time, but I didn't, because I was too proud. I am ashamed of my regrets, if I was to be honest. Though I hope they can help me be a better and wiser mother than I otherwise would be ... let my children learn from my mistakes.

  2. I don't have too many, but I hope that in a sense, I can learn from my regrets. Learn to take the chance if it appears. Quite a few regrets deal with past men in my life (not too many of them!) but then that goes without saying. As much as my regrets are abut what I've done and wished I hadn't, theyr'e also about what I didn't do but wished I had.
    Happy early Friday Kerry. You are just getting a jump start, aren't you! x

  3. Through regret comes growth. Great post. A-M xx

  4. The trick is to pretend that you don't regret an action - words, like arrows (and emails) cannot be retrieved.

  5. For me, deep regret is like a constant companion but one which can never be your friend. It's a terrible thing to have but you have to try to move on and do better. xx

  6. In truth there is art. Hugs. Fantastic post. Great art.

  7. Don't regret the post - it's terrific.

    I struggle with regret. It's one of my 'things'. The smallest regrets and I can't seem to shake them. This post has been comforting. x

  8. Imagine my surprise to see your Friday post already up at 6:30 am, Thursday morning our time! Great post Kerry. I think the quote you put at the bottom sums things up perfectly. I doubt there is a single person without some sort of regrets, small or large. They help make us who we are. Have a lovely weekend - without regrets! (even if it involves drinking too much wine!) Mary xx

  9. Very interesting Kerry.
    I try to learn from my mistakes and move forward. What's done is done.
    My friend (an accountant) says pencils come with erasers because people make mistakes.

  10. Dear Kerry, I do try not to have regrets since, as you say, having regrets can be very destructive emotionally. I often say to myself about decisions taken that with hindsight perhaps would not have been, that 'one made the best decision one could at the time', and I find that something of a comfort.

  11. It's the time factor I mind - a regret I can robustly shoulder midday is quite another thing at 2am.
    Over and over again I wish I had been kinder - a more appreciative mother, a more courteous wife, not so quick with a smartarse answer. I suppose it goads me to be more mindful in the here and now.
    And now I'm going to have some chocolate.

  12. So well written as always Kerry.. I've had to think long and hard about regret and guilt as these were debilitating, daily emotions for some years. I'm now at peace with myself as I realised that rather than try to rid myself of these emotions, they are what I am meant to feel as a decent human being, if I have made a mistake - at least for a time. After that you move to acceptance, reflection and the knowledge that you learned so much from your mistakes. And that brings peace. None of which is possible without first feeling regret. Rachaelxx

  13. I think regret has an important role to play as it gives us perspective. Without it we wouldn't learn, but I hear you on the dwelling. What is done is done, and all we can do is take those learnings and move forward as better people.

    Hugs to you my dear.

    xx Charlotta

  14. I agree with your sentiments. Life is filled with choices and we can't get that right all the time. I've hundreds of them, and I'm sure will have many more to come.
    Makes me think of the movie Sliding Doors. Not that it's a brillian film in anyway, except how it demonstrates choices, outcomes etc.

  15. Your such a wise owl Kerri, I loved this post. I have many regrets some for things done & some for opportunities missed, as they say " hindsight is a beautiful thing!"

  16. Kerry -
    Thank you for this post. I needed to hear it. Like you, I have one major regret in my life that is extremely personal but excessively painful at times. I struggle with people saying things like "Let it go. . . " because that does seem like a cop out. I love the perspective you bring! Thank you. :-)

  17. Hi Kerry,
    I never look back and regret things as there is nothimg that I can do about it now. I think that perhaps, regret is the wrong word to use. We all perhaps, make the wrong desisions in life, but these should be looked upon as lessons to learn from. We are meant to learn by our mistakes so, looking back on things that we have done and learning from it is a good thing.......Oooooo, this is very deep for a friday afternoon !!
    I hve just been over at Jeanne's blog, Collage of Life, and see that the last film you saw was Another Year.....that was the last one I saw as well. I thought that I would be the only one to have that as my last film I saw. Did you like it ? I loved it. I love anything that Mike Leigh does. Have you seen any of his other films ? One of my favourites is Nuts in May. Look out for that one if you haven't seen it ( although, you probably have as you probably wouldn't have gone to see Another Year if you didn't know his work).
    Have a great weekend, Kerry. XXXX

  18. no je ne regrette rien ....makes me think of Edith Piaf's song! I love when you do postings like this. You are a wise woman Kerry x

  19. Oh Kerry....please have no regrets about the post. These are the type of posts that make us realise, phew....I am not alone, other people feel these things too. As for regrets, perhaps I am too young to really have had ample opportunity for the type of regrets that change lives. I hope you find peace with the decsions you made, in the past, doing the best you could at the time.
    X B


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