Once upon a time, somewhere in India, a monk was walking in the woods. Suddenly, he listened to a strange noise behind him. He turned his head and saw a tiger ready to attack him. He ran with all his strength, but he couldn't compete with the powerful animal. When he saw a small cliff, he was so frustrated, that he threw himself and grabbed a wild burry bush. The tiger came to the edge and stood. She could wait for him. Then another tiger came to the bottom of the cliff. The monk there hung, trembling from fear, between two deadly enemies.
That's how we are when we give space to these dangerous carnivorous enemies: regrets and remorse.
They don't let us live our lives.
Regrets have to do with wishing you hadn’t taken a particular action.
Remorse, on the other hand, accompanies an action taken. In both cases, you are bound by the past. They are anchors that don't let the ship sail away. They are not security anchors. They are burdens.
They don't emphasize maturity. They hold it back.
They are chains. You can't go forward.
If you live between regretting the things you haven't done and feeling remorse for the ones you have, you are stuck in the mud.
Psychology uses clear language when dealing with them. They lock us into poor relationships, jobs, and habits. Even the fear of regret can have the same impact as the actual regret. Our brains process those fears in the same way. That fear is enough to make us reluctant to make changes in our lives.
In business and the issues about money, science has defined the "disposition effect" as an immediate result of regrets. We stick to the status quo at a present time, without making any decision, move or change, despite the loss we suffer, in stock, in a mutual fund, or any financial investment.
You see men and women, highly educated, experienced professionals, standing still, simply watching a disaster happening in front of their eyes.
You don't deal with the issues at stake, there and then. You are weak, fragile, vulnerable.
There are regrets at a purchase, regrets at the loss of a loved one, regrets at taking this road, that car, that job.
Even the prospect of feeling regret is enough to stop you from deciding.
Being in a blurry mental state, in a misty psychological attitude, you can't leave sickness. You prefer this to health. Regrets kill your efforts, remorse kills You.
The past steals from the present.
Something that didn't even happen, pillages reality.
Yesterday loots today.
You stand there alone and desperate, thinking about any detail of this or that. You examine everything; you organize and plan them, but all in the imaginary field of a dead-end strategy.
Days, weeks, and years pass, and you are still there, hanging on the cliff of this illusion.
You relive again these incidents tens and hundreds of times by yourself. In the desert of your mind. Because you destroy your ability of creative thinking. Because you devote your time and efforts to going back into the past again and again.
Like living inside a cinema hall and on the screen playing the same terrible movie. You're examining thousands of past facts that are long dead. They exist no more. You're making plans on a burnt piece of paper. This is not the archeology of knowledge. This is lust for the hollow.
To have regrets is to waste your life. To have remorse is even worse. Is to get yourself paralyzed.
It's a matter of timing.
You deny the present. You fail to be in it by choosing yesterday over today. The refraction of time is a disaster. It clouds your mind and your judgment.
You are caught in the spider's net. Every move makes you more confused, weaker, and more trapped.
You can't change what happened. And you can't change the way things are.
Between regrets and remorse, you fight with ghosts that thrive against your health, both mental and physical.
Like monsters in mythologies, they bite and tear you apart. They leave rags where the fine garment of your soul was. They leave ruins where your precious mansion stood. They leave ashes where the light of your fire burnt.
But you can change your attitude and your reactions.
Every action can be beneficial. Human is the center of everything. The ability to evolve is the most critical. All virtues are parts of a polyhedral gem. By carefully carving it, you increase the seats. The volume is limited, it can be extremely small. But the surface tends to infinity. All virtues grow. There isn't a specific point or a degree where we arrive and stop. We must constantly move.
When this is not the terror of the unknown but the expectation of the future, when the past is the fertilizer of existence, the only school we claim, then you perceive everything in a new form.
The first step is to understand the negatives. The second is to discard what we must and convert the rest. To turn our lives just as the captain turns the ship. To change our way, our destination.
We often accuse someone of being a fraud. But think if we are deceivers of ourselves?
Remorse and regrets are the fertilizers of negativity and guilt. To learn from your past is a blessing. To get stuck to it is a curse.
Practice self-compassion. Use even the enemies. Adapt only one part of them. Examine your past with no feeling of guilt. Examine once and for all the incidents that you consider as crucial. Make your conclusions, but move ahead.
Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Relief will follow.
Look at the situation, examine it but learn. Don't simply stand at the crossroads of your history regretting. Forgive yourself.
What is past has passed.
Be your friend. Be your companion. Be you.
That's why Emily Dickinson wrote "Remorse-is Memory-awake".
We learn from it; we are not crushed by it.
So, it's better to listen to Billie Holiday singing "no regrets".
It's always a matter of choice. Things and decisions are in front of us. We are always free.
Make this step now: break the chains.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 STAMATIOS SOUFLERIS