It's Okay To Have Regrets

'No regrets' and other anti-regret mantras are everywhere. Every so often I read something along the lines of 'don't regret anything, because at one point it was what you wanted' and I get the sentiment, that the past is unchangeable so you should let it go, that mistakes build you and shouldn't be kept alive in some kind of shame cage at the forefront of your mind. I get it, but it bothers me too.

Me as a young child, getting ready to start regretting stuff (like trying to eat my dad's tie, possibly).

First of all there's the fact that regrets aren't always about things you wanted. Sometimes they are just things that happened, or the internalised guilt you feel from not preventing something someone else did to you. This goes hand in hand with popular rhetoric around the concept of forgiveness - ideas and mantras about how you should forgive everything because holding a grudge only hurts you. Again, I see some sense in this, but I feel that deciding not to forgive can be just as empowering in the right circumstances. Refusing to forgive doesn't have to mean you are clutching the event to your chest and thinking about it every twelve seconds.

Me regretting my life decisions at a young age.

Similarly, regretting something doesn't mean it has to haunt you and eat away at your psyche until it's only 9:12am and you're already a gibbering wreck because you broke your mum's favourite Michael BublΓ© mug ten years ago and the regret is too much to bear. Besides which, it's okay to remember things you regret and feel hurt. You are under no obligation to move on and become a squeaky, happy bouncy ball with no feelings or memories. I think it's important to try to deal with and cope with your regrets as best you can, but it's completely normal and human to have regrets. You might even find it is more helpful to deal with, accept, and keep a regret than to purge it. Or maybe those two options are just two different ways of describing the same thing.

I will never regret wearing these cool trousers though.

Sometimes storing a regret is the only thing that feels right. Sometimes forgiveness doesn't feel like an option. Both of those things are okay, and you do not need to be on a journey to forgiveness unless you decide to be.

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