“I wish I had done things differently back then…” Sounds familiar? The ego has no match in making us feel regrets about past event, calculating probabilities of outcomes and trying to compare constantly things, persons and situations. That is plain exhausting if you listen to it all the time, and inner peace comes from learning to “let go” of that voice of judgement.
A fulfilling life is one where we enjoy the path we’re walking despite all the rest, including ruminations about past choices that could have been different, or fear creeping in about future possibilities perceived as threatening. A life with no place for regrets is a life where we take responsibility for our choices and trust our inner power to lead us to whatever we want no matter our past trajectory. It’s a life of freedom. But very few of us live that sort of life, for we have fallen for the deception of the ego: the voice in our head that is not truly who we are. The voice that feeds on stories, projections, illusions and negativity. When we choose to love and accept ourselves, we see that past choices were made with the data available at the time and with our best judgement back then, and yes it may have led to poor decisions, and so what? We have an infinity of time to refine ourselves and evolve, so why beating ourselves up so hard? Granted, time in a specific life is limited; but this present life is not the only one we have. And even so, time is not linear. Quantum leaps can happen and our life changing dramatically in little time whereas we can stagnate for years on and stay in the mud. In the end, we’ll get there, all of us! So why worry at all? Worrying is a habit of the mind, but we simply don’t need it. Worries beget more worries and once the breach is open our ego engulfs so much of our energy into it. The actual poor choice we’ve made is to believe there’s anything to regret. In an infinite universe with infinite possibilities at each moment of an infinite time, it’s OK that a few things can go wrong. But it’s also staggering how much works just fine and brings us pleasure and happiness.
Many of us are devoured by our own ego and crumble under the weight of a lifetime of accumulated regrets. You may have heard about Bronnie Ware, author of the 2012 book “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying”. She worked with people reaching their end of life, and collated a list of the top regrets that they would share when about to pass to the other side.
The list is:
That list inspires wisdom, because it is something we can all relate to. How many times have we felt the pressure of peers to conform to perceived standards and act in a way that was not congruent with our inner self? That’s #1. How many times have we listened to the inner dramas of the ego that tells us horrible stories about our lives and that things could be so much better? That’s #5. Etc.
When people reach their end of life, there’s a sort of shutdown of the ego, a glimpse on the other side where they finally see things now that the pressure is removed and they already have a foot on the other side. But that is not the only time it can happen. Some moments of deep release can also occur throughout our life. I found such moments especially when something significant and with a strong emotional load has ended: e.g. a relationship or a job. In those moments, we can catch a glimpse of the treachery of the ego that suddenly retreats with the experience being over. It can last a few minutes only, after months or years of hardship. Suddenly there’s that clarity… I see things now! I see why that happened, I see I was going in the wrong direction. You reach a moment of peace, a moment of relief. Time may even seem to stop, the dominion of the ego is suspended and we can see things for what they truly are. And then… the ego takes over again. Have you ever had such a strange moment when you had a profound realisation of how an entire narrative unfolded precisely AFTER it was over and you lifted all the pressure off your mind? So why do we fall in that trap over and over again? Well, we forget… It takes a lot of personal discipline to keep the ego’s manipulation at bay and live in harmony with it.
Really, the ego is expert at making us regret the past, and as long as we listen to it, regrets will pop up in our mind every now and then. Regrets arise from the perception of loss, a missed opportunity that will never present itself again. But that too is an illusion: similar situations present themselves to us at given time intervals, if we only see them. We constantly evolve and our experience of the world reflects that. We can start living a life with no regrets once we understand that things happen exactly as they should, and that it’s not even the doings of the ego that are responsible for them. Have you ever wondered what happens when you let go of control and let things happen by themselves? Try it some time, and observe. The ego does not cause things to happen… because many things happen on their own. But the ego likes to take the credit. So when we relinquish our attachment to controlling such and such outcome, when we trust that things are in perfect order all the time and let go of any glimpse of a regret, we will find ourselves presented with new opportunities to fulfil those perceived ‘lost chances’. That is the magic of the universe. The power of trust, faith and surrender will uncover that it is the way we were thinking all along that was the problem, not the world in which we lived!
Finally, are those choices we regret really that bad? How can we know for sure? Sometime, in hindsight, decades later we might realise that those events were inevitable and that some lessons needed to be learned. That lesson would have taken one face or another, that was inescapable You may not believe in destiny, but the law of karma is very much real. We make better and higher choices as we evolve and our past is just the shadow of the trials we’ve gone through. That’s one more reason to adopt another outlook on life and see the big picture: regrets are useless, self-created, inaccurate and drop our vibrations low. They are a mental activity that we need to let go of, for our own good.