“Je ne regrette rien”: why regrets are often misplaced.

13 Jul

This article is part of the series “31 blogs in 31 days” during July 2017 on howtofab.com.

We have all been there: “Why did I do that?! I should have known better!” or “Why didn’t I say anything?! I wish I could go back and have that conversation!” or “I was such an idiot for not seeing what she was doing!”

Regrets in hindsight are very common. They usually come with self-reproaches and a strong feeling of guilt, as we feel we’ve been letting others down, or ourselves. That awkward feeling when something crawls up your spine and tells you “You did something wrong!”. 

The thing is, whatever you did, whatever you didn’t do, whatever you said or didn’t say – you did the right thing in that very moment. Perhaps after some time you see things differently, you have seen the consequences or you have more information than you had at the time. But at that very moment in time, you made the best decision you possibly could. If there was anything else you could have done, you would have done that.

Hang on, you say, I don’t think I did do everything! Yes you did. Even if you knew at the time that you could have gathered more information, or whatever, there was obviously something that was holding you back. Something else was more important to you at the time, something else was a stronger force. It may have been fear, perhaps you wanted to protect something, perhaps you were just too lazy, or perhaps it just wasn’t the right time just yet, but something was there to nudge you in a particular direction.

Even if you knew full well back then, that there were other options, you took the one you took because it was the right one for you. Even if the decision was against your better judgement. If you stayed in that toxic relationship, although everything in your gut was screaming for you to run away. If you took the job, even though you already had an inkling that the boss was a bit of a weirdo. If you held back those words that you knew were more true than the ones you did say. You did what was right for you. Yes, we are selfish in that way.

And to blame yourself in hindsight for not knowing something you simply didn’t know at the time – well, that’s just unfair! You only knew what you knew. Just as right know you only know what you know. Of course, tomorrow or in a week from now, you will know other things too, but at this very moment right now, that’s what you have to work with. You aren’t omniscient nor omnipresent. And you probably can’t time-travel to see what consequences there may be in the future. The thought of blaming yourself in a week’s time for something you could not have known today, that seems somewhat absurd, right?

Stop blaming yourself for the past and start accepting that you were actually a normal, fully functioning human being at the time, with all its flaws and limitations. It’s much more productive to see if you can take anything from that situation. Perhaps next time you will give yourself 2 more minutes before reacting. Perhaps next time you will talk to just one more person to get a second opinion. Perhaps there is still an outstanding apology you could give, to somebody or to yourself.

And afterwards, embrace your inner Edith Piaf and start singing: “Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien!”

Picture: geralt via Pixabay CC0



One Response to ““Je ne regrette rien”: why regrets are often misplaced.”


  1. Don’t Worry – It’s Useless | How to Fab - July 14, 2017

    […] Yesterday’s article was about Regrets and why they are often misplaced and unfair. Today I am having a similar go at Worrying, another questionable human pastime. […]

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