Is regret regrettable?

You often hear the phrase “I have no regrets” thrown around. It is a dishonest phrase of course, but even if it were true is that such a good thing? To regret something is to on reflection admit it was a bad decision. Ultimately, it means if I were to do it again I would definitely choose a different way. And in that I see a great sense of wisdom and humility.

If you have no regrets, do you A – not regret your decisions even though some of them were not great (i.e. regrettable) or B – because you are perfect and never make mistakes. If B is true, please get in touch! Most likely it is A, in which case, to have no regrets shows a certain lack of self remorse and self-empathy.

My point here really, is nothing new. I simply wish to say that reflecting on your actions is a positive step. If we just ignore what we have done in the past, we are likely to make the same mistakes, then get frustrated because – guess what – we have been here before.

Of course, there is a balance to be struck. Regretting every little mishap is not helpful, but even with larger mistakes, it is not skilful to be constantly regretful. Regret, can bring suffering to one’s life if they are not able to distance themselves from it. If we observe regret as a thought or an emotion we can still experience it, but we can also not identify with it. Further, it is important to realise that not everything is under our control, often we make the best decision, but for unforeseen or purely unavoidable circumstances, it does not turn out as expected. This we should not regret; it is unfair and unwise too.

Ultimately, I think regret should serve as a reminder. A simple way to keep us in check and try to minimise our errors. I hope I do not regret writing this post.

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