“I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.” Katherine Hepburn
I think it’s clear that Kate had regrets in her glorious lifetime. So do I, and my gut tells me that anyone who says that they don’t have any is not being entirely honest with themselves. What is regret, anyway? Psychologist Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., calls it feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been, or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made. I would more simply say that regret is a feeling of deep sadness over things that we think are BIG mistakes we made during our life, at one time or another.
I think if you don’t acknowledge regret, you deny yourself the opportunity to grow and change in a positive, meaningful direction. Course corrections in life, if you will. If only I had hung on to that great guy, Bill, that I was dating when I was nineteen. If only I hadn’t slept with that married guy (in my own defense, I didn’t know he was married…at first.) If only I had invested more time into nurturing my relationship with my teenage best friend Sue, we might still be great friends. The biggest one for me, however, is that my curious nine-year old self had to find out why my brother disappeared into my parents bedroom instead of watching TV with my other brother and me, one morning in 1966. I walked in, but I didn’t walk out. Curiosity almost killed the cat. Do I regret what happened to me that day? Of course I do, not only for the losses I suffered, but for everyone else whose life was changed because of my injury.
So, am I trapped into a miserable, incapacitating existence? Hardly. Throughout the course of my life, I’ve learned from my mistakes, changed what I was capable of changing for the better, and adapted to what could not be changed. The most important thing, though, was developing the ability to let go. Let go of blame, of self-recrimination, of “what if’s.” Regrets are okay to have, as long as you don’t live in them – otherwise, they suck the life right out of you.
Unfortunately, the process of letting go is a lifelong one, because you will constantly be reminded of missed opportunities, abilities you’ve lost, or things that, generally, you just messed up. Then, there are always new ways in which you might succeed – or fail. If you need help, get it. Talk to a trusted friend, or seek professional guidance. Personally, when I’ve been stuck inside my own head, in a place I don’t want to be, I’ve done both.
I hope you all find a path to conquering any regrets that may be floating around in your mind. I wish you all good health and happiness, support when you need it, and support when you don’t. Please be aware though, that anybody can wish you all the happiness in the world, but finding it is ultimately up to you. Just one more thing – I still want to be a ballerina.
Peace on your head,