Last night I considered a post about regret, but this morning the moments and scenarios that taunted me had been blunted and softened by sleep. Thank goodness. Late-night memories of what we can never change are the most potent torments a brain delivers to itself.
This morning, enjoying my well-rested distance to the things I had or hadn’t done, I investigated the psychology of regret. An article in Psychology Today claims that regret is useful for young people as it allows for future correction. The less opportunity someone has to fix things the more likely that regret will transform into damaging negativity and stress. Yet cultures that already allow for less choice, due to arranged marriages or an otherwise more prescripted life structure, apparently have relatively less regret than those with more personal freedom of choice. Imagine that: freedom to regret.
Years ago I heard a Buddhist comparison of the peaceful self to a blue sky. The clouds might come and cover it up, but it doesn’t permanent marr the blue sky behind. This was a comfort to me when I was trying to be more mindful and generally failing. At least that failure wasn’t forever. The regrets I have are the opposite. They’re forever failures. But I’m still reassured by the idea of a blue sky unmarred by what went wrong. I know I didn’t mean to fail, and if nothing else is perfect my intentions surely were.
No need to mention how well paved the road to hell. That’s a different metaphor.