Dear True Self,
I have so many regrets in my life. So many times I have failed, said or done the wrong thing, hurt people. So many times I have sabotaged my own life or not taken opportunities. It’s so hard to move forward with all this regret, and I know that I will have more regrets as time passes. How can I break this cycle?
Bets on Regret
There is some good news. Regret means that intuitively you realize something very fundamental. It is the most obvious truth about life that most people spend their whole life denying. You are lucky because regret means that you see this truth, even if only at an unconscious level.
What is this truth? It is quite simple really. You have realized the most basic and overlooked fact about life:
You are mortal.
If you lived forever, would there be any question of regret? No matter what happens, you would always have a second chance. Time is not limited for you if you are immortal, so it doesn’t matter how much you fail, how much you err, how many opportunities you miss…there will always be a tomorrow.
But you don’t live forever. So every time life doesn’t happen the way you want, you feel regret.
If you’re delusional and think you’re immortal, regret would rarely show itself to you. You might think this is a silly thing to say, who after all thinks they will live forever?
It’s not that people believe they will live forever. They just act as though life has somehow guaranteed them that tomorrow they will be here. There is no such guarantee. They don’t understand the preciousness and value that is the life they have right now, in this moment. If they did, when it is wasted, they would of course feel regret.
So there’s the good news. Regret is evidence you are not delusional about your mortality!
Before you get too excited, there’s one small catch: You are not consciously aware of this. If you were conscious of your mortality, meaning that you understand at a deep level that life does not guarantee you more time – you would not waste a damn second on regret, you would only work on making your life beautiful.
Life has given you an expiry date, only you don’t know when it is. So regret becomes a compulsive reaction to when life doesn’t go according to your preference. You’re going to die. This isn’t to be morbid. It’s a a wake up call. Stop regretting and start living.
It’s not about fearing death as a motivation to live. It’s about appreciating the life you have.
If you observe life, you will see that nothing ever really dies. What you have identified as you dies, but life always goes on. There is no death. There is only life becoming more life.
Sometimes Disney gets it right you know? It’s the circle of life! The physical form dies, but only to become something new. Then that new thing dies to become something else. And so will you. It is inevitable.
For another perspective, how many things died, have continued to give their life, for you to be here in this form? From every breath you take to the food you consume, in how many countless ways did something give itself to become you? You have a responsibility to live life as full as you can.
Have you ever heard the saying,
“Live each day like it’s your last”?
The saying isn’t about suddenly panicking and draining your life savings. It just means that whatever is happening in life, you make the most of it! The only obstacle to you living the life you want is you.
This is really the deepest form of regret. Not that which we tried at and failed – failure is our greatest teacher. No, people regret most of all that they didn’t do.
How many times have you made excuses to live life the way you wanted? Decided not to learn that language, go to that gathering, take that class, talk to that person…essentially how many times have you avoided doing things that you truly wanted to do?
I know I have made it sound so simple, to just live the life you want. You may be wondering how you will magically know how to act if you just realize you are mortal. It’s not about knowing what to do. It’s about knowing how to be. If you remember your life is precious, gratitude is inevitable.
Gratitude is like a key – it opens many doors in your life. Be grateful for the life you have now, in this moment, whatever that moment looks like. With this one small practice, regret will just fall away, I promise.
Your True Self
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