But One Regret

I have spent the past few years of my life living the belief that I had no regrets concerning my past. I, like most people, have had some difficult times, made bad decisions, and suffered the consequences of my thoughts, words, and actions. But I believe that all these experiences are an integral part of making me who I am today. And as I love who I have become thus far, I have accepted all things in my past, both good and bad, as being the driving force behind my personal development and growth. It seems to be a badge of self-love to be able to tell others that you “have no regrets in life”. It reflects an acceptance of current or prior circumstances and a positive outlook on life in general. People, who believe this way, are rare to make excuses for their situation, find the positive in even the worst circumstances, and are generally happier in their lives.

If we are the sum of our experiences in life and are happy or content in whom we have become, then we may be led to believe that without all of the experiences happening just as they have happened, we would have been led to be a different person. Possibly someone we like less than who we are today. It could also be argued that enlightenment, happiness, and self-love are a product of the journey of personal growth and self-awareness. That regardless of what has happened to you in the past, your search to discover who you are, how you feel, and what you believe in, would have brought you to the same point. That no matter the path you travel, you would find self-love if that is truly what you seek.

Is it only suffering or pain that teaches us compassion? Is it only not having that teaches us appreciation for what we do have? Is it only feeling unloved that teaches us to love? Or can these positive qualities be derived through other learning. Although experience is the best teacher, is it the only teacher? Can we not derive wisdom from the experiences of others? If we are witness to someone experiencing something in their lives, can we gain some insight from their journey or must we have the experience ourselves to gain from it? Our parents constantly try to help us learn from their experiences in life. They tell us stories of their past with the hope of imparting social, ethical, or moral wisdom. And often we do not accept these truths until we experience these things in our own lives. Too often we think that the lessons learned are about the person learning them, and we will not make those same mistakes as we are brighter or better equipped than they were when they were at our age. I, personally, have found myself learning the hard way that they were right after all. But I do agree those lessons learned the hard way are the ones that stick forever.

A recent conversation with my sister and my dearest friend brought this quandary to light for me. I have always believed that the experiences in my life were all important and all taught me something. How then can I have any regrets, if they have brought me to a point where I am happy in whom I have become? If I were to do something in my past differently, would I have still gotten to where I am today?

For me, I still accept that I am truly the sum of the experiences in my life. I would not change anything in my past because I believe that all the experiences have taught me something about myself, others, or the world we live in. If I could change anything that happened to me in the past, I wouldn’t. My choices, decisions, and mistakes have all taught me something and have formed my views, beliefs, and dreams. And I readily seek out new experiences, as my personal growth is a never-ending journey.

The intellectual pondering of this topic has caused me to change my views though. I can no longer say “I have no regrets in life”. I will be happy that my experiences have helped me to move closer to the person I want to be and wouldn’t change them for the world, but I will allow myself one regret. I will allow myself to regret that my often stubborn and selfish decisions have caused anyone else hurt or pain. I will always wish that my personal growth did not have to come with any negative impact on other’s lives. If I could remove the pain I have caused to others in living my life, I would.

© 2012  Commonsensibly Speaking ~ Brad Osborne

2 Responses to “But One Regret”
  1. anticsofaserialdater says:

    All “good people” regret hurting those we love. We wouldn’t be considered good people if we didn’t. That being said, in order to hurt someone we love, we had to be loved. It’s almost like the ying and the yang of life. It is impossible to not hurt someone we love at some point in our lifetimes. Impossible. If we didn’t hurt those that we loved, and were hurt by those that we loved, it wasn’t love. With love comes pain. It’s inevitable. It’s how we know we love.

    For example, the nasty lady at the check out counter can’t hurt me because I don’t care what she thinks. She means nothing to me other than being another human on this planet. I would not be unkind to her but her unkindness to me has no affect (ok, I actually find it humorous, but I’m a little strange). Of course, there are those with low self-esteem that get hurt easily by perfect strangers, but that is their issue and not that of the mean stranger.

    My point is, if the people that we hurt couldn’t be hurt by us, they never loved us. And wouldn’t that be a horrible existence?

    That’s not to say that you shouldn’t regret hurting them but cut yourself some slack, it’s inevitable. And you are good people.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Your generosity of spirit is amazing and I agree with your views. Any depth of love holds the risk of being hurt. Knowing the pains you have suffered in the past, it is great that you have the ability to let go of the negative and hold onto the positive. Your are a forgiving soul. This may not make you unique, but it does make you special. And I appreciate how special you are!

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