soul food friday ~ thinking about regret

on Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's been ages since I've done one of these posts. Perhaps holiday mode makes you less philosophical? Not so much of the existential angst...or the eggs(istential) for that matter! We covered a lot last year on a Friday...success, privilege, love, loss, learning and quite a bit else that resonated with some of you. 
Do you remember old blue eyes and that song about doing it his way and the ..."regrets I've had a few" bit? Well this post is not about him. But it is about regret. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm not sure why...perhaps it's the books I've been reading, or another year beginning, or maybe just my age.
I have had a very lucky life...blessed in many ways and I am happy where I am right now. And like Frank, it's often a case of "regrets too few to mention". But I do have one rather substantial one. I won't share the private details of that regret because it's, well...private. Not like the regrets I have on an almost daily basis...regretting eating that last chocolate, regretting saying yes to an invitation when I really should have said no. Having that icecream at the movies on Wednesday night, that bad idea for a new hairstyle, the pair of trousers I bought that of course I would fit into one day! Nope, nothing like that. This thing that I regret changed lives. 
And yes, in many ways it has led me to where I am today...but still. That can be a bit of a cop out can't it?
So what is regret? Is it ok to have some of it; not all the time of course and not over trivialities...but sometimes, for somethings?
I looked in all the usual places for a definition. Dictionaries give very bland ones. Self help books all tell me that it's something you shouldn't do. And then I came across this quote...and put it on a pretty picture just for you :)
And I thought...yes. That's right. Despite what I think we've been led to believe...that regret is a useless 'emotion' (and a lot of the time I would agree) I think there is a purpose in feeling regret.  And that purpose is to make us meet responsibility head on. Look very closely at our regret, roll it around in our head and our heart and be honest with ourselves. I'm not advocating beating ourselves up...of course not (there's plenty of others eager to do that I'm sure!), and I know I'm not always as wise as I'd like to be...even now,  but if appropriate regret can help us gain some insight into ourselves and help others who might actually learn something from our experiences, then I'm all for it. 
Geez, I hope I don't regret this post... :)
image 1; image 2; image 3 by me - green cape NSW