Living with Regret
Larry B. Gelman, Psy.D.
Regret is that state of being, which occurs either momentarily and/or for all eternity, in which the person living with regret, has chosen, of their own free will, to act or to behave in a manner, which results in a harm to self and/or to another. In other words, regret is generally an avoidable consequence when infractible behavior fails to occur.
What might this mean to an individual who wants to live their life without regret? Do no harm! If you give your word, keep it. If you believe in something, stand for it, support it, fight for it. Walk the talk. Live with honor. Always do right.
There can be no joy living with regret. Only sadness, loss and despair for opportunities squandered by whatever rationalization, justification or excuse serves to explain why you chose wrong and why you acted wrong when you also had the choice to choose right and to act right.
Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to get a second chance, if you will, a do-over, to make right a prior wrong. I am not simply referring to a mistake which, upon further review, we can usually correct.
Rather, I am focusing quite narrowly upon those conscious, intentional and volitional actions which we know from the first to be right or wrong.
In my opinion, it matters, not a wit, if you can get away with a harm and logically argue that no foul really ever occurred because none were intentionally injured. It matters, in entirety, that you comport yourself, at all times, in a manner that you can sincerely be proud of, regardless of outcome or impact on others.
In the former instance, you might be able to trick yourself into believing that “it’s not personal, it’s just business” or “I gotta get mine before someone else does” or “I want what I want when I want it and I don’t give a rat’s behind what I have to do to get it.” In each case, the person’s character is left wanting and is, therefore, bereft of any honor.
In the latter instance, there is no trickery, sleight-of-hand or gobbledygook to explain-away dishonorable behavior. You get to choose at each and every step how you will think, how you will judge (i.e., make judgements) and only, thereafter, how you will act in a manner consonant with who you are and, also, with who you will not or must not be for yourself.
Interestingly, both the former and latter paths lead to living with no regret, that is, except or until you are ready, willing and able to accept personal responsibility and personal accountability for all of your acts, in which case, if you’ve chosen narcissistic self-interest, you know that you have to eventually belly-up-to-the-bar” and “pay the piper” ...or not.
Living with regret results and obtains from knowing right from wrong and choosing wrong and in so doing, harming one’s character even if no one else is harmed or is the wiser. Not living with regret results and obtains from knowing right from wrong and, after contemplating wrong, choosing it not because you should not, could not and would not.
As an affirmative, intentional and conscious act of character and, also, as an affirmative, intentional and conscious act of your own free will, it is very simply your moment-by-moment choice to live with no shame, with no blame, with no humiliation, with no guilt or, alternatively, to spend the rest of your days and nights living with regret!
Author Note: Dr. Larry B. Gelman is a Clinical Psychologist and a Personal Mentor
Copyright © 2010-2022 Larry B. Gelman, Psy. D. All Rights Reserved.