Matthew Abraham wrote an opinion piece in the local free newspaper, “The Southern Times Messenger” recently about regret.
He started off by commenting on the paper’s recent ‘cutest pet’ competition and a particular miniature daschund whose ‘slightly worried’ appearance made him appear quite endearing to anyone looking at his photo. A sad look in a dog, when we are also sad, gives us the feeling that our pet might be empathising with our pain. This is not the case, however, as a dog doesn’t have the capacity for human emotion. There is no way, for example, that a dog would feel regret.
Matt went on to discuss whether or not it is a good thing that we can experience regret. Is it a useful emotion? He referred to a book called Being Wrong, by Kathryn Schulz who argues that we should embrace our regrets and learn from them, rather than try to ‘put them behind us’ and pretend that the thing causing our regret didn’t happen.
He suggests readers take a look at a talk Kathryn gave entitled ‘Don’t Regret Regret’ which is available on ted.com. This is an excellent speech to an audience, and has much food for thought.
My own opinion is that if there is a particular choice you made at some time in your past that you wish you had not made, you can take control, not over the past, but over your reaction to it.
You wish it had not happened, but you can’t go back and delete it. However, you can learn to live with the consequences. Think through exactly what followed the act, and you will find there were choices that other people made too. What someone else says or does is something that you have absolutely no control over, so it is pointless worrying about it.