So this is a tricky one to write about.
What if we need to stop with saying “No Regrets” when pontificating about the future? I guarantee you that this life is impossible to survive without regret so stop kidding yourself. I also know that for the many mistakes we all can make that there can be grace that’s immeasurably more than what we can think to ask for or imagine when we are honest about doing something we wish we hadn’t. So this isn’t a judgement rant but rather a request for you to consider how “no regrets” might not be the greatest pep talk to yourself or others on the brink of decisions whether they be about sex, finances, relationship and the plethora of subject matter that can define our futures. If it was a good self talk than why is it that your therapist is booked 3 weeks out at a time? At least that’s the case for the therapist I visited for awhile and it’s likely because she’s a dang good one.
I promise I won’t go too far into the weeds (who am I kidding? If you didn’t know by now I basically live in the weeds) and that this isn’t a bucket into which I’ll dump loads of self loathing. This isn’t a prompt to induce shame but very much the opposite; I hope. What it is is recognizing that some mistakes that I have learned from might had been avoided if I had stopped excusing poor choices by my repetition of the mantra “no regrets” to myself in some pivotal moments.
I can say that I genuinely love myself now but I didn’t get to here without a fair dose of convincing. It took grace, love, and honor for myself, and from my Creator and that of the people who love me the most. Again, so much grace has been needed on the road to today.
Many might provide the counter argument that “if you didn’t make mistakes you didn’t learn”. Yeah that’s true. However, I feel that the idea that you can make this poor decision right now because you probably wont have no regrets later is an enabler of what can actually cause shame down the road. And trust me, I’ve had my bouts with shame and luckily after seeking help and sifting through my stories I got to a point where it stopped controlling me or defining me. But oh boy it sure did for awhile. I kept thinking that my mistakes would feel less painful later if I didn’t have to think about them for awhile but that wasn’t true. In the formative teenage years and my early 20’s I went through a season of being unable to look myself in the eye. It sucked and I don’t think it had to go down like that. It’s not like I was a criminal but it was a time when in many ways I was in direct rebellion of what I valued and it was tough to keep excusing myself when I knew I could stop making those mistakes that kept me staring at the ceiling at 3 am.
Luckily my regrets paved the way for me to have empathy and grace for others sifting through their reflections of the choices they made. I’m so blessed to say that there are many young women out there who I just want to hug whereas before I went through some crap of my own I might have had gross condemnation. This is about knocking off the railroading of yourself before you have to get to that hard earned wisdom. It’s about biting your tongue when you want to say no regrets and instead trust your gut when it says “actually this is gonna really suck to work through later”. It’s about letting your conviction (not shame) tell you to take a moment to reconsider what you’re about to do.
Know that with the gauntlet of emotions we all have been gifted as humans that they each are necessary to an extent and regret is especially among them. Without regret we wouldn’t feel humility and we wouldn’t ask forgiveness. The avoidance of regret led me to shame which in turn caused a continuity of the same mistakes. The life cycle of non-reconciled regret is endless without stopping to realize yeah, that shouldn’t have happened, it was a letdown, and now that you can look what you did in the eye and from you can take the next steps to understanding the grace that’s out there for you when you are finally honest.
I actually feel like the avoidance of regret is to deny something very human about you and it causes you to see yourself through rose colored glasses. It makes you avoid yourself and creates the illusion that you are incapable of mistakes. If you could stop and say “I have my regrets” than you can finally see that you are a beautiful and broken person who is capable of being well and of learning even if it had to be the hard way. I do love seeing someone who can say they did that, it didn’t feel good, they had to process that regret and can now love who they have become as a result. That’s powerful, it’s healing and can pave the way to helping others on the brink of similar choices you once faced.
Regret is a necessary part of the story of who we are. We just can’t stay there is all. We can come to the realization of regret, see it’s necessity and grow from there. I just hope that if one day I happen to become a parent or a person of influence to a young person that I can encourage them to avoid the “no regrets” pep talk to save a therapy session or two down the road. I would love to tell them that if they have to give themselves the “no regrets” talk in the moment it’s probably gonna mean the exact opposite later.
As my mom would wisely say “chew the meat and spit the bones”.
With so much love,