Regrets. We all have them. We regret something we did. We regret something we didn’t do. We regret choices. We regret relationships. We regret staying too long in something. We regret not giving the second chance. We regret hurting another person.
In Bronnie Ware’s Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, she shares with her readers (myself included) the 5 biggest regrets of the dying. Can you imagine? Getting to the end of your earthly, physical life, and lamenting things that you didn’t do. I would bet that all of us can relate to this because, as we live right now, we probably have some kind of regret. But, what is a regret?
When I look back at the origin of the word, it comes from the French, regreter, meaning to “long after, bewail, lament.” These are words that we would associated with dying. We bewail or lament the death of a loved one. But a regret? What are we actually lamenting or bewailing?
Bronnie’s book lists 5 regrets. I would imagine there are many more. And they are not regrets for things. They are regrets for the way one has lived or has not lived. Regrets of the dying are about life and living!
I have a quote in my office from Norman Cousins:
“Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
For me, this speaks to my understanding of what a regret is! The dream that goes unfulfilled because of fear. Not being true to oneself. Giving over power to someone else that doesn’t deserve it. Making excuses for why one is living the life they are living. Staying stuck in a job out of fear or obligation.
The greatest loss is when we see something else for ourselves and then we let that vision, that image die because of fear, obligation, lack of confidence, comfort, paralysis, or excuses. “That will never come true.” “That is too risky.” “I won’t be able to do it.” “My life is good just as it is.”
When we let that deeply desired career die inside of us. When we settle in a relationship for something less than what we truly desire. When we give the direction of our life over to someone else because we lack the confidence to venture forth. When we let the fear of risking paralyze us and hold us hostage. Regrets.
So, what is the opposite of living a life of regrets? Living a life where these things do not die inside of us while we are living! Living life with a sense of purpose, direction, joy, fulfillment! Paying attention to what goes on inside of us when we feel ourselves at a crossroads in life. Not giving into fear. Not giving our power or choices over to someone or something else, especially where it involves our integrity and authenticity! Live a life where our deepest desires are given the chance to be expressed, created and developed! They are given life!
Regrets are about the parts of us, the parts of our lives that were never given the chance to even experience life! They were born in us, but died in us long before they saw the light of day. Don’t let this happen. Might these parts of us that are yearning for life be divinely inspired? Might they come from God? Might they be a call to our highest, truest selves? It would be devastatingly sad to die and never live the life we were meant to live. That would be my greatest regret. What’s yours?