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An Inspirational Story on Handling Regrets Instead of Living With It

Updated on July 13, 2016

How To Overcome Living With Regrets

I looked back at my days and discovered the one thing that had always been with me was change. It has transformed me from a ‘daddy’s little girl’ to a mother of not just my two kids, but to many young people out there. From one who saw the world in its simplicity to one who now understands its complexity and challenges. My soft and tender palms are now toughened by experience and hard work. My tearful eyes have been replaced with a strong will and determination to get up and keep going.

It has not been easy, I must say, but one of the things that has kept me, is having listened to the life stories of others who are much more inspiring and whose challenges more unbearable. I have over time given my ears to both old and young and have listened to the wisest and silliest decisions ever made. I have also reached out even to the seemingly strong and supposedly weak. But in all, one thing remains constant and common to all-Regrets! Every life I have come across has regrets.

The regrets have ranged from common mistakes, to decisions made and from blaming oneself to blaming others for unfortunate situations. Omissions and commissions that led to unwanted events with chain reactions have been a major source of pain and regret. We all beat ourselves up so hard when things go wrong, especially things that we believe could have been avoided by a different choice. We most times make no conscious effort to let go of the pain, focusing on what is supposed to be, rather than what could have been.

“I tried so hard to carefully plan and stay out of regret,” one of my uncles said to me in the summer of 2012.

“I always take my time just to avoid regret,” said another.

“I wish I could start all over, I would never put myself in this situation,” I hear over and over from friends.

“I don’t know on earth how I landed myself in this mess,” I will often hear people say.

“I regret ever setting my eyes on her,” a friend said to me about his ex-wife. “God, how I wish I could start all over I will never tread that path again,” he added.

“If I had to choose, I would never choose to be here.” a teenager said.

There are countless encounters with the same feelings of regret every moment you find time to listen to someone. But one encounter that has stuck with me was when six year old little Lizzy asked me in January 2013 about my greatest regrets I wish I could change.

Lizzy, as we often refer to her, is the last child of my older sister Sarah, who said she was done having kids, but somehow the little princess came into their lives and changed everything. I believe her to be very beautiful and intelligent. Her outgoing nature endowed her with a lot of friends of different ages and caliber. She is very sensitive and attentive to her older friends and treats her peers and younger friends with love and respect. Her boldness always brings her to ask questions that are seemingly above her age with incredible choice of words. So she looked at me with those keen bright eyes and asked, “What are your greatest regrets in life that you wish you could change, Aunty IJ?”

I looked over her shoulder but couldn’t mutter any word in answer. Rather I took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. Then she said, “Don’t worry Aunty IJ. I understand there are too many things we regret in life and tons we wish we could change. My mummy always uses the ‘I wish’ word, but she never shared those ones she regrets.” She paused and then said “I hope she did not regret having me because I will become a super star someday.”

That little conversation brought tears to my face as I listened to a six year old reveal the greatest secrets of life:

“Never stop wishing and ceasing every opportunity to make it right. You can only feel regret but don’t make the mistake of living in it, because it has a way of stealing even the smallest meaningful moments of your life. If you don’t know what would be, why regret what has been. Life is a gift. Once unwrapped, it makes no sense to wrap it again. And above all, the fears of having to regret will steal from you the opportunities you have to accomplish all those wishes and dreams that drive your everyday.”

Sarah believed that she had her whole life ahead of her and having another baby after eight years was a big flop to her career and family plan. She sometimes blamed herself for it, but most times met the anger on her husband Dave.

Dave was passive to the situation when Lizzy was born. “I personally don’t mind another little girl after three kids. I think she is adorable.” he would always say.

“Off course you wouldn’t,” Sarah would always fight back. “You are not the one whose life is being put on hold here, you are not the one nursing her and having to stay awake at night. You don’t even know how painful and awful it feels each time she cries for attention. The whole routine is driving me nuts! God, I hate to make this little girl feel so unloved,” she continued and would end up crying and feeling sorry for herself and the baby.

Even as the baby grew older, Sarah kept living in regret of having dreaded the moments surrounding her daughter’s birth. She hated herself for all she said and did to her, her family and everyone who came around to help. But here is Lizzy, grown and wise, and had in fact become more of a blessing than pain to all around her.

ECHO By Rhema Planters international

Now, you may wish you never spent vacation in South Dakota in the summer you met your spouse. You wish you had stayed back in Med School; maybe you would have been more successful. Or, you wish your family was rich and life was different, maybe you would have been more respected. You wish you had married the other man because you think his wife is happier than you. Here you are wishing you were born in the cities rather than in a farmhouse, but you never realized there are many out there who are willing to pay anything just to know the things you know and enjoy the experience you now abhor.

Regrets are almost inevitable in human life, but you can stay away from living in it. That common factor that transcends every tribe, tongue, race and persons have denied our beautiful planet, people with sincere gratitude for the gift of life, and hope for a better tomorrow. A beauty I find only in the eyes of babes and my little Lizzy, who just taught me the lessons I will never forget.

It’s human to feel pain for making bad decisions sometimes especially unintentionally. Being in unfortunate situations and places can in turn become a blessing in disguise. There are also life lessons to be learnt from every circumstance, especially the ones we are not very proud of. Examples include:

1. Try to analyze the problem or the situation around your choice.

2. Think of what you could have done differently especially if you have a chance to go back in time.

3. Write out the pros and cons of the choice you believe you should have made. Because, whether you like it or not, every choice has its pros and cons and every decision its ups and downs.

4. Compare the pros and cons and do the same for the choice you regret.

5. Definitely, there would be something to learn from either your decision or mistake. Perhaps, you can help someone in the same situation to make a better choice. That might just be a good reason.

6. Always tell yourself that the mistake have been made, if it had cost so much, try to restitute by doing right and making the best out of subsequent opportunities. But tell yourself, you can't change the past by living in it. You can only change it by practically and prayerfully making good choices in the future.

But in all, I believe we are all like a pencil in the hands of our Creator, and our individual life a tale that has been written. A tale with an ending that matters more than its beginning; a destination more vital than the roads and paths taken. So instead of staying where you have fallen and blaming yourself for falling, I’d rather you look to the skies and rise up, take the next step and move on.


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