I generally think regret gets a bad name.
I regret a lot in life: not persevering with learning a language or instrument; not trying harder in school; saying I Love You back when I didn’t mean it (!!); having cheese and crackers tonight after a day of healthy eating; repeatedly going to bed too late, and lots more!
I think the idea that is oh so popular on inspirational Pinterest posters (ugh), that regrets are bad and we should have none just misses the whole point and deep value of regrets! They can be the best motivator and prod us to grow into the people we aspire to be; to be better friends and lovers etc, to improve at work, to save money and take better care of our health etcccc.
Regret isn’t shame.
Shame labels us and makes us stuck.
Regret labels behaviour and moves us forward (well, for me it usually takes a few regrets to get the lesson but hey, it counts!).
Anyway, I was mulling on this recently and this short poem came to mind…
The gap between
What you do
Who you are
And what you want to do
And who you want to be.
The gulf between
What you do,
Who you are,
And what other people want you to do
And who others want you to be.
Neither wallowing in regret,
Nor ignoring its painful lessons,
Rather striving to do and be
What and who you want to be.
And not letting others’ (imagined?) views hinder your quest.
Recently I watched a superb play about homosexual UKIP members-yep! And within a few days of that I had an interesting Facebook chat about the woman Trump has appointed Deputy National Security Advisor (never thought I’d be typing ‘Trump’ & ‘National Security Advisor’ in the same sentence unless it was in the context of a scandal!). Anyway, the article we discussed was about her not speaking to her gay brother, even when he was dying (!!!), because she disapproved of his promiscuous lifestyle.
What’s been fascinating re the play is how surprised many people were to see that homosexuals can be right-wing, & even right-right wing, & even downright racist! Some people assumed, as many of us do, that once you’ve experienced adversity because of prejudice you’ll be predisposed to extend empathy to others. Hmm, a beautiful ideal but come on, we human beings could make Othering** an official, planet-wide sport! So with regards to racially intolerant homosexuals-who had experienced homophobia from some ethnic minorities & thus felt threatened & resentful at their presence in Britain-do we condemn them for their racial views or praise them for their work for sexual equality? Or can we-please-allow space for both?
- Hates you vs Hates your views
- Image: Quickmeme.com
While these guys have complex, competing tolerant & intolerant views, Trump’s mate does not…well, actually maybe she does-you tell me. She was understandably criticised in gay media outlets for her terrible behaviour to her brother but what caught my eye was the fact that her behaviour was implicitly linked to her being inappropriate for her job. Why? Her actions show she was-& maybe still is-a terribly disloyal, judgemental, unforgiving & unkind sister, but what’s that got to do with her job? If her private views don’t affect her work: why is this family fall out news? Isn’t this part of the same argument we’ve been making in support of homosexuals (and singles & divorcees before them) receiving the same basic respect & rights as heterosexuals? ie. If it’s private & not affecting their work leave them alone!
Now her behaviour is abhorrent to me but, as a liberal-ish chick, I believe we should be free to be as (legally) arsehole-ish in our private lives as we want to be! And when you are, I’ll ardently discuss, blog, & petition for you to change your views & behaviour. But I won’t condemn you for your them. (I may not be friends with you though…your loss!)
** Othering: labelling someone whom you regard as belonging to a lesser social group as ‘the Other’.