Let’s talk about regrets.
It’s all well and good saying “No regrets” and “Everything is a lesson”, but in reality we all have those moments in life that we look back on and think “Oh God, what was I thinking?! ” And I’m sure, given the chance, most of us would go back in time and reconsider some of our decisions.
If, like me, you’re someone who’s in your head a lot, then you’ll know that some of those past regrets still haunt you and cause you to feel certain feelings that are hard to move past. So you either push them back down, or revert to old behaviours that no longer serve you, only strengthening those regrets. It can feel like a merry-go-round that you continue to ride even though it makes you feel sick.
So how do we move past this and break the cycle?
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that we all have regrets that we hide in our darkness. No matter how beautifully or perfectly somebody appears on the outside, or how nice and genuine they are towards others, they still have regrets. They’re inside all of us. And often we heighten our own regrets through comparison, thinking we should be more like other people and less like ourselves. But remember, comparison is the route of all disappointment. So our first task is right there, to stop comparing ourselves others. We know nothing of their regrets. Just know that we all have them, no matter how much we try to hide them.
Next, it’s time to practice non-judgement. In yoga philosophy, we call this Ahimsa, which translates to ‘non-violence’. Now don’t get too caught up in the term ‘violence’. Yes, it can refer to physical abuse. However the term is broad. Let’s consider how this would translate towards our judgements…
To be judgemental of the self is an act of violence. It causes us emotional harm. We all know the phrase “Don’t beat yourself up” - Ahimsa is literally this. When we judge ourselves, what does it achieve? Yes, perhaps we change some behaviours going forward, but do we need to beat ourselves up to do this? Does that self violence serve us in any way? No. It simply makes us hate ourselves that little bit more. And each time we add to that self-hatred, we reinforce that inner voice that says I’m not worthy and I’m not loveable. And to coin a phrase from the queer icon, RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”
Finally, now that we’ve practiced not comparing ourselves and not judging ourselves, it’s time to remember that life isn’t as simple as that. These methods are wonderful in theory, but they take a lot of practice to remember to do and to get right. Much like healing, it’s not linear. There will be times when we feel rational and can practice these concepts, and there will be times when our minds simply can’t comprehend such ideas or overcome the negative self-talk. And that’s ok. Just like our mistakes, our healing isn’t perfect either. Sometimes you need to be kind to yourself, and sometimes you simply need to sit in the darkness. Both are just as valid as each other. The importance here is in the word ‘both’. Like everything, it’s a balance - and you need to embrace both the darkness and the light in order to fully heal. So be kind to yourself, even if that kindness means sitting in the darkness for a while.
Perhaps the next time you hear the term “No regrets”, instead, you can consider that there are some regrets, and that they can actually be used to practice not comparing, non-judgement and acceptance of the need to heal in both the darkness and the light.