No Regrets

“I regret to inform you”….
” I’m sorry to tell you”….
We hear these words all the time in our day to day lives and dismiss them almost immediately. They’ve ceased to mean anything. Ask almost anyone if they regret anything in life and pat will come the reply, “No, I don’t do regrets.”

It’s justified by saying that you can’t look back and you need to move forward, all understandable, even necessary, but do regrets really hinder that or are they all part of the learning process? I’d say the latter, because to me, having no regrets is on par with not experiencing guilt, not feeling bad, not acknowledging mistakes and not taking any steps to put them right.

Apologies are the same. The only time you see sincere apologies nowadays are on films and soaps. I can’t remember the last time I got one, but I’ve certainly made a few. I’m not talking about the automatic British thing of saying sorry when you bump into someone. I’m talking about a heartfelt apology with an explanation when you do something wrong. I’m talking about feeling remorse and a strong desire to put things right. An apology that’s difficult to make. The harder it is, the more important it usually is that you make it. It shouldn’t be easy. That’s the whole point, it shouldn’t be that easy to hurt someone’s feelings. That’s why it’s a learning process, the idea being that if you make a difficult apology and struggle to put things right, you wouldn’t want to do it again and perhaps consider the consequences of your actions in future. In order to do that however, you have to feel an element of guilt…and we’re back to regrets. Quick fixes in the form of new people and new places are easier than acknowledging what you did or what was done to you.

We’re taught to say sorry by our parents and in school, but unless it’s demonstrated, you can’t understand it. I would guess that’s why we often hear people saying “I’m sorry you feel that way,” which I find far, far worse than a lack of apology, because it’s just patronising. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. We teach children to say sorry, but we don’t teach them to mean it. They’re just words.

There’s no doubt we’re a more selfish society now. For all my hang ups about people not being honest with me, the word “honest” is often used as an excuse to insult and belittle and occasionally bully. We don’t seem to feel remorse about the way we treat people. We’re trained to seek out what makes us happy, without considering how our actions will impact on others. We say what we need to say to get what we want. It’s seldom the truth.

So think about that the next time you say you have no regrets. Haven’t you ever hurt someone? Done something you shouldn’t have done? Lied? Betrayed? If you don’t regret that, what’s to stop you from doing it again? If you don’t want to think about that, then consider the reverse…what’s to stop someone from doing it to you?

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