When used properly, words can be a source of solace and nourishment. When used improperly, words can feel like an attack on our souls.
Often, the word regret is only used when we claim we have none. Most of us are reluctant to admit we have regret because the general consensus is that regret is something to be ashamed of or it is something we should strive to live without. However, regret is simply the acknowledgement that we are all human. We are all creatures who are subject to mistakes and shortcomings. At its core, regret is a promise to never make the same mistakes again.
To create a better tomorrow, we must learn from our past. We must recognize our failures and strive to grow from them. The first step towards doing this is to admit regret. It is to find the lessons in our past so we can better shape the present and future.
Regret is one of the most challenging things to admit we have because many of us believe regret and happiness cannot coexist. We believe that wishing for a different past means we will become dissatisfied with the present. We believe that it will make us wish to be somewhere other than where we are. However, this is a youthful interpretation of regret.
When used maturely, regret is a catalyst that makes the present more vivid. It allows us to step back and to take a bird’s eye view of where we are. It reminds us that every moment with a loved one is one less time we will see them and that we must not take any more moments with them for granted.
To fully appreciate life, we sometimes have to shed a tear for what has passed. Take the doctor or lawyer who was busy working while their child was growing up. They might give anything to go back and rekindle those moments. Regret can motivate them to not make that same mistake with their grandchildren. Or take the person who said hurtful comments to a loved one and now regrets what they said. Regret can remind them to make amends and to hopefully never say those same things to anyone else.
Therefore, when embraced, regret is a powerful yet heartbreaking force for change. Like a potent spice, regret wakes us up; it opens our eyes to missed opportunities, and it makes us see, with clear vision, where we are and where we are going. However, we must be cautious. We must not let our regret debilitate us. We must not let it stop us from carrying on. We must use regret as a means to become larger and more generous than ever before. We must use regret as a guiding light to leave the world more beautiful than we found it.
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