#ThinkKit Day 12: We’ve put another quarter in the slot – free play! Hit the reset button on a moment this year: what would you do over? Whether or not you analyze your actions – how would you act differently? Would the outcomes shift, or stay the same? From a single sentence to a whole day (and everything in-between), feel free to explain your choice, from how you felt immediately after the moment passed, to any thoughts that ran through your mind beforehand. Take a mulligan!
Ah, the mulligan. I don’t know…I don’t like the mulligan because it suggests regret. And, I don’t like regret. I think regret and resentment are two very destructive emotions that are hard to release and even harder to overcome. And, there is no reason to have regret because it’s simply impossible to go backwards in time and undo things. I mean, literally. We haven’t solved the issue of time travel yet.
When I was in my 20s, I don’t think I could get through a single day without wishing I had a dozen ore more mulligans. I made many, many mistakes–every day. In my 30s, I think I started to see those mistakes for what they were: mistakes–not the end of the world. Only about half of them really truly mattered. Now, in my 40s, it seems as if there is no such thing as regret. I mean, everything happens for a reason–even if that reason is for you to feel bad about what you did: that’s the lesson–don’t do that again.
I have had some very painful lessons, just like you have had I am sure. Lessons that have taken years to reveal their real purpose and meaning. I think about the journey of finding a place for our middle son where he was valued and supported in the classroom. An incredibly painful journey that lasted years (and on some level, we still can never really exhale on this one), but had it not been for all of that pain and all of those failures, it would be much harder today to recognize success. Those bad times changed how we defined success. They changed our expectations of both our child and the schools. They taught us how to truly advocate for what our child needs and they taught us to believe in him like we never had before. I has made me not afraid of challenge in the classroom–for any of my kids.
Now, that’s regret on the macro level. Naturally, I still do have regret on the micro level.
I sometimes regret wearing an outfit (a shirt that doesn’t stay where it needs to or a pair of pants that wrinkle quickly in the most unfortunate area, the crotch). Most of the time, I realize before I leave the house that it’s iffy, but I decide to go with it anyway. I regret that. I often regret eating ice cream on some nights because after I am done, I realize it just wasn’t worth it–it really wasn’t that good.
Then, there are the times when my family is all going somewhere and I decide not to go because I think it will be more fun to stay home alone and enjoy some time to myself. But then I miss everyone and I am board. I regret not going.
Most often my regrets, center around words. I have a temper and sometimes say things that as they are coming out of my mouth, the voice in my head tells me “this will hurt the other person” and I say them anyways. I have said things to my kids I wish I didn’t say; I have said things to my husband I wish I didn’t say. But I did. And while I regret saying it, I offer an apology and move forward.
To me, regretting the micro is not really regret. It’s oops, sorry. It’s what can I learn from this and change in the future? What I think of as real regret is on the macro level–the longing to redo a moment in life where the two paths diverged in the woods and you regret the one you chose. You think things would have turned out differently if you would have chose the other one–and you can’t let that feeling go. That to me is real regret. And that, I just don’t believe in.