There are times when I get frustrated with people. Some of those times are when they tell me some moment in their lives that they regret. Or sometimes it’s when they tell me about an upcoming whatzit that they really are super worried about.
When I hear them talk like that, I feel they are wasting such precious time and emotional energy. They’re giving space and consideration to things that they can do nothing about. It’s things that they have zero influence over, and still they fret and think and wear themselves down.
[To be clear, when I talk about worry, I mean looking forward to an event that they cannot (or even will not) do anything about. If they are able to affect the outcome by their actions, then it’s no longer worry. It then becomes concern and thoughtful proaction. I’m cool with that. We should all be the authors of our own destinies and despise the passive attitude of simply letting life happen to us.]
Regret is worry in the other direction. (And vice-versa.) Regret is the act of putting your mistakes in their own viewing gallery. Sometimes you replay the scene, expecting a different outcome, and get disappointed when it always ends up the same. LIKE HISTORY TYPICALLY DOES. Mistakes are great. They’re what make us better now. That person you were? Young and stupid. The person you are? Smart and attractive. Because you learned from your mistakes. But those mistakes should still not be given the time and attention that Regret demands. They should be filed away in a cabinet, forgotten until you need to refer to them, and then stuffed back into that fucking cabinet.
What makes me such an expert on this subject? I would retort, “Why not me?” Is there some kind of Harvard-educated ‘regret petit bourgeois’ that can lay a better claim as expert on this subject? I’ve done my share of worrying and regretting. I’ve come out of those moments feeling just as shitty as when I began, and I actively try to avoid doing it anymore. Mostly I think I succeed. And I think I’ve benefited from the emotional savings.
On the other hand, I do know that worry and regret can force themselves upon you without warning and without asking your permission. I know that some people may have a much more difficult time with it than I have. On that front, I don’t claim to be an expert at all, and would perhaps even suggest a counselor. I would go so far as to say that knowing what regret and worry can do to your mental health is the first step in getting a handle on it. And knowing that you can take control of your thoughts is another step.
I may go further on my mental health journey by trying meditation. My mind goes about 500 miles per hour sometimes, so it might be good to do a routine slowing down session. Whatcha think? Any suggestions on how to start something like that?