Tag Archives: regret

What a difference a day makes

What if you only had a day left to live? How would you spend your last 24 hours? What would be the items on your bucket list that you could tackle in a day? Would you be concerned with regrets or qualms that have weighed you down? How difficult would it be to resolve some of these issues? Who would miss you the next day? Who would you want to know that you love them?

These are all questions that have crossed our minds in some format or another. For even while we live, we are aware that we are mortal and death is inextricably connected to all living things. Even if one day in our lives may seem uneventful or insignificant, it is one more day that we have at our disposal. We do not live in the past or in the future; we live in the moment, and each moment is precious. Although breathing is an involuntary function that is most often taken for granted, we should in fact be grateful for each breath we take. We need to take time out of every day to revel in the fact that we are alive, that someone cares about us, that our presence has made a difference to someone today.

It has been said that the three hardest things in life to say are: “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, and “Help me.” We shouldn’t let our regrets or fears plague us. If there are relationships in our lives that are toxic or unresolved, they need to be dealt with rather than swept under the rug for tomorrow. If you were wrong, apologize; if you were hurt, allow yourself to accept it so that you can heal;  if you need help, ask for support; if you want to tell someone how you feel, do it. Put yourself out there, no matter how vulnerable, because each moment is precious, and you don’t know if you will get another chance to express yourself. How would you feel if the person is gone the next day, and never got to know how you felt? Fear of rejection and pride often stop us from having fulfilling relationships. But you may be surprised (although you shouldn’t be) to learn that other people have the same kind of fears, problems, and hopes as you. Reaching out may be easier than you think, and saying things out loud to someone puts you on the path to acquiring what you are feeling. The point is, unless you try, you won’t know, and the road not taken can haunt your subconscious and manifest itself in the most unexpected ways.

We have today, and that is all we know. So today, say what you mean and mean what you say, because life is too short to leave things for tomorrow.

I will make better mistakes tomorrow

“I will make better mistakes tomorrow.” This was a quote I read on someone’s T-shirt the other day, and it has resonated with me and stuck in my mind.

Any way you slice it, we are human, and that implies that we are not immune to making mistakes. But, what exactly counts as a mistake? Who determines which actions are mistakes, and which ones aren’t? You can view an individual’s life as a series of choices that eventually turn into a unique pathway. Along the way, there undoubtedly were a lot of potential swerves and alternate pathways. And some of those probably resulted in setbacks, large and small. When the outcome of a step made makes a person feel negative emotions, that is usually a sign to double back onto that original road. This misstep is then viewed as a “mistake” by the traveler. Once we recognize it as such, we often feel regret, anger, sadness, guilt and disappointment.

What is the purpose of these emotions? I think they serve as teachers, reminders not to conduct similar behavior in the future to avoid similar consequences. For instance, our pain receptors teach us early in life not to do stuff that hurts us physically (burn ourselves on hot surfaces, scrape/bruise ourselves, etc.). So in a way, emotions, like the perception of pain, are self-defense mechanisms. Sometimes, however, this mechanism works in overdrive and causes imbalances. We get so eaten up with guilt and regret, that we cannot let go and move ahead.

I recently realized that the only person you could ever disappoint, betray, or otherwise let down, is yourself. We may get angry and take it out on others, but that is really a projection of what we our feeling for ourselves at that moment. The phrase “you have no one to blame but yourself” comes to mind. What messes a lot of people up are expectations. We have this vision in our heads of what outcome we want, and plan it out, and get excited. And if it depends to any extent on other people (and a lot of things in this world involve relating to other human beings), we get upset with them if something goes wrong. But in reality, we cannot expect other people to do what we want. We can’t count on them to act a certain way or live up to a certain standard. So placing too much value or trust in their hands is the mistake on our part. The involvement of another person to your plans places the circumstances out of your control, and it strips you of power. You are not vulnerable to the actions of this other person, and you only have your faith and intuition to help guide you to people worthy of your trust. So when things don’t work out as planned, you cannot blame the other people involved. You can only blame yourself for trusting them, and draw conclusions to withdraw that trust in the future.

On the other side of that coin, we often misplace our frustrations with ourselves into unhealthy outlets. I am a chronic procrastinator and constantly running late; I am a night owl that come morning regrets not going to bed earlier the night before; I am a people pleaser and have trouble saying no. All of these things result in me thinking ill thoughts and being frustrated/mad/annoyed. Instead of recognizing that I am hurting myself, I project my frustrations on my surroundings. Instead of admitting our faults, we make excuses and get angry. In order to face our own issues, we need to analyze why we are getting angry with others. Admitting we were wrong is hard, but it is so much harder to live in denial and misplaced emotions, (not to mention it may snowball into huge anger management issues later on).

This may sound cynical, but it is meant to be therapeutic. Things can only change when we overcome denial and recognize that it is a problem. So in the end, we are all responsible for our destinies. Sadly, we cannot count on (most) other people (although there is light at the end of the tunnel: there will be people you can count on, few and far between), unless they prove themselves worthy by their actions. We should try to be self-sufficient to avoid the pain of high expectations from others. We should also pay close attention to the consequences of our actions, so we can react quickly to rectify situations which may become unfavorable. And we should accept the fact that we are human and imperfect, and the only thing we can count on is that mistakes will happen from time to time.

So, I will make better mistakes tomorrow. That is a vow to myself.