Moving Forward Isn’t About Having No Regrets. It’s About What You Do With the Regrets You Have.

cement with the words "live with no regrets" painted on it in cursive in black
Image by Jason Howie / CC BY

It’s very easy to say you have no regrets, and it sounds damn cool. It gives off the impression that you’re either a person who is supremely confident. Or one who has mastered the art of self-compassion.

I’m pretty sure I’ve even said it in passing. In my everyday life and maybe even in my essays. As a kind of breezy throwaway “it’s all good” sort of comment.

But if I’m being real, I have to admit I do have regrets. I imagine most people do.

And while they might have unfettered carefree moments where they’re able to say they have no regrets, I bet there are other moments that happen more quietly. Where they think back on certain things and say, “you know, that was messed up.” Or “I wish that hadn’t happened that way.”

And that’s fine. It’s not about having no regrets. In fact, I think that’s an important part of learning, moving forward, and doing better next time. The process inevitably requires a bit of ownership of the situation. And an evaluation that yeah…. maybe that didn’t go the way you wanted it to.

The point of having regrets is not to perseverate ad nauseam, self-skewering and riddling yourself with a pervasive guilt that dooms you to repeat those mistakes.

No, it’s about figuring out what the lesson is here. Figuring out what you might be able to do better in the future. Regrets can be an important part of this. Part of self-reflection and personal growth. Not to cling to indefinitely – but to guide you towards a different way of doing things.

So if you have some regrets about things in your past, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed.

Moving forward isn’t about having no regrets. It’s about what you do with the regrets you have.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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