Looking back at my life I feel really frustrated, angry, sad and confused thinking if I would be given a chance to change some events of my life then I don’t know which one to change first to make my now better.
I have a list of regrets which really can’t be rectified. Nobody can change my past. And if I ask God then He will deny by saying, ‘I won’t change it even I can change everything.’
The scripture says, “Since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God.”
Let me explain…
We all know we are created in the image of God. No other animals or living beings have conscience to think and decide. They don’t have the sense of right and wrong like a human being does. They don’t have that creativity and free will like human beings.
Human beings are creative like their maker and creator, God. Human beings have feelings to understand the hearts like the Creator. Human beings can love, have compassion and have emotions like their most loving and compassionate God.
Now that’s called to being created in His own image to have all His attributes or glory which we lose it when we commit sins whether we have regret about it or not. (God’s glory is much bigger than what I explained here; it’s just a small part of it what I mentioned.)
Now repentance is essential to start the restoration process. Repentance for our wrong doings are the first step towards the restoration of our original image, our God given image.
Let’s get into some practical life examples of what we just got to know above.
Couple of days ago, Prabhjot said that her decision of choosing certain friends was regrettable as it took her to the pit though she had overcome it already. Her friends became a problem and my ‘No friends’ became a problem for me.
Let me explain again…
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” ― John Wooden
It was tough test for me in which I failed utterly being alone at home all the time for my health conditions. I was enslaved with many addictions that took away my heart from the best things to the worst ones.
The worst ever thing happened to me when I landed here in Kolkata. I was introduced to the world of Yahoo Messenger and was glued to the computer screen of an internet cafe, hours for almost 3 years of my precious life. The most regrettable sin that I had committed in those three years was… I wasted my time, I wasted my money, I wasted my mind and I wasted the gifts God had given me. All were very precious for a person who stepped into a new place, a new job with a new set of inspirations. I laid a worst ever foundation of my work career. If I would not have wasted those precious jewels in my life then I would have gained lot more in life by now. I would have achieved more for the people and the purpose for which God had called me. I lost the best part of it.
Life has its own twists and turns. There is never a straight road to make one’s desires see the light of the day. And it is when one encounters such bends in life, there arises a gasp of regret – regret to have traversed the wrong path, to have made the wrong choices, to have taken the wrong decisions. Unlike the concrete street-ways where one can afford to turn back and retrace one’s footsteps, in life’s roadways there is no turning back! There is only moving forward.
Disappointments and regrets are integral to all our lives. However, every situation of disappointment does not call for regret.
Example One: A child can regret disobeying his parents on a said occasion, especially when he has had to face a stern consequence. Such regret would enable the child to resolve never to repeat his behavior. That’s positive regret.
Example Two: A young lady regretting marrying the man she married. Such regret would only make her life more miserable and bring before her all the flaws of her husband and her marriage. This is negative regret as it holds no scope for turning back and making the choice afresh.
Often we wallow in the miry clay of negative regrets. As a result, we fail to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel. Our vision remains blurred and we sink even further down into the pit. True, some situations in life cause us to rethink about the path we chose in the first place. But wisdom lies in choosing not to repeat the erroneous ways in future, rather than pining over the errors.
A most frequently quoted scripture portion reads – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
If we are sure of God’s control and calling in our lives, there is no room for regret. Because, then the sum of all events in our lives work for our good.
When most people think about regret, they think about the choices that they make, the decision that they took, the career path they chose and so on.
Unfortunately, that kind of regret is painful and keeps you stuck to the past. Sometimes, regret, if left to fester, becomes chronic, turns to bitterness, which turns into cynicism and ultimately, total apathy.
How about turning the tables on regret?
When I broke up with my ex of 4 years, I literally felt my life shattering around me. This was about 7-8 years ago. I could not see past him, and suddenly he was gone. And there was nothingness all around.
But looking back at all that today, do I regret having him in my life those four years? Not one bit. I’ll tell you why. I don’t regret it because that whole phase taught me what NOT to do in a relationship.
I realized one important thing through my broken relationship – that LOVE is not a feeling, it is a choice, a decision that we consciously make. We make this decision to honour God, our partner, our families and our home.
When Rohan came into my life, I remember the first thing I did with him was to have an honest conversation with him about what I was looking for. Turns out, he was looking for the same thing. And everything just clicked.
I think it is time we stopped making the same mistake twice. Learn from your mistakes, do not repeat it, and you will never have regrets.
But, if there is something to regret — regret hurting other people, especially people you love and people who love you.
All these years of “learnings” (won’t call them regrets) cannot take away one thing, the fact that I have hurt numerous people in many ways.
And so, to my parents, my sister, my brother, my uncles and aunts, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues & bosses, and my partner for life, please forgive me for all the times I have wronged you. I may have learned from that experience, but I cannot take away the hurt I have caused you.
Regret, folks, but for causing pain to others. Make the rest a learning experience.
I had a serious interest into biology. I have no idea how many books I would have read related to anatomy of human body. Spent hours in lab dissecting cockroaches, frogs. May be, I was just mad about becoming a doctor. But, when it was time to make a career decision, reality was different. I realized, I cannot get enough finances to support my dream. I didn’t have a choice but to choose an alternate path. Whenever I used to cross the medical college en-route, saw junior doctors with stethoscopes and white coats, it used to hurt me to the core. Regret number 1.
Electronics was my second love. I graduated as an Engineer with Electronics as major. This wasn’t very bad, I am still going to do something I love. Huh !? Only if life had the same plan laid out for me.
A sweet surprise was waiting for me.
Though I have landed in a job, it has put me into a very strange situation. I am a Software Engineer. Some people in my position would have jumped out of joy, at the glance of the fancy title. But, I wasn’t. I was expecting a VLSI Engineer position. I was so upset with that job, I used to literally cry and struggled to figure out how to deal with it. I disliked being a software engineer. Regret number 2.
After spending 5 years of professional career as so called software Engineer, by this time I got used to being one, I had an unique opportunity. Software Engineer for a healthcare company making medical products. I had one more offer with another technology giant with double the pay than the offer of the healthcare company.
I strongly regretted not being a doctor and being a software engineer, both forcing me to learn to live with a regret. But today, I am at a juncture where I can make a choice. A smart choice which is an amalgamation of something I love doing and something I am OK with. Naturally, whom ever I talked to gave me a suggestion to accept the non healthcare job. But, I knew it’s a good move to enter healthcare industry..I would be a stupid to not see the obvious.
Getting into my current role isn’t luck or something I was destined to. There were a lot of hiccups. I prepared myself for it and looked for good opportunities. Thanks to my current boss who saw the potential in me. Today, I am working for a healthcare company happily coding, juggling with micro-processors, enjoying the soothing sound of soldering, fulfilling patient needs. All my love for serving the society and playing with tiny wonders of electronics world came true. I get to see medical procedures and I love watching them. (Though performing them would have been better). I have worked on my regrets, changed the direction in which I tackle the regret and I did end up in a much better place.
I do have much larger regrets than my career. All of us have regrets, whether we accept that before others or not is a different issue. A regret is a consequence of our choice, reasons could be many. Every choice of life we make comes with a cost. When we try to compare the cost of one choice to another, usually we end up with regrets. If we become too careful to not make mistakes or take risks, we may end up not having regrets but then we have stopped evolving.
I completely agree with both Chiradeep and Sulagna. Having a regret isn’t bad at all, it’s a realization. If we can learn and make appropriate choices, we may not see immediate results but all our efforts would be paid off at sometime in future.
“The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.” ― Napoléon Bonaparte
Regrets are often taken as something negative. Of course, when you regret something you feel extremely negative about the situation. But the fact that you regret a particular decision or situation is positive because you have accepted it and you are trying to move on from it. Regret is what comes out of strong introspection which is always a good thing. The question is how far are you willing to go to correct what has gone wrong? When you really take a decision to correct the situation, getting over the regret is easy.
When I started to think about writing this snippet, I was quite blank for some time and thinking hard made me realize that there is no strong regret that I feel currently. That doesn’t mean that I have never regretted anything in my life. I have had lots of regrets – I just chose to get over them with time. So, let me share one of the strongest decisions that I feel went bad.
I chose wrong people as friends and even when I realized that they are not the right people – I did not have the courage to give them up. I could not stand up for my own self esteem in front of them and I let them step all over me. There is nothing in my life that has made me feel so horrible ever. These people were my colleagues in my previous job and only a few months after I quit that job, did I realize what I was into was a complete disaster in the name of friendship. I felt cheated to the core. It was difficult to get over that regret. It haunted me for months and years; even now sometimes I feel horrible thinking what a fool I had been.
Well, what is done is done. I know where I made my mistake and what I need to take care of in future. I have moved on from who I was then to (I think) a much wiser person now. It gives me all the more strength when I think about that time. It makes me value my real friends all the more. The whole episode made me a much stronger, emotionally independent and wiser person.
Regretting or feeling contrite about or being penitent is always good for any individual when he or she tries to start afresh positively from that point of contrition or penitence. But if it is just a habitual feeling of remorseful and being the same old self after the passing of time then it is very hurtful for the person concerned and not helpful at all.
Why did I say hurtful?
It is because the regular feelings of remorseful are utterly draining and demotivating. Regrets, guilt, penitence are like nails and thorns on our pathways which might hurt us when we walk on those paths. But when we are aware of them and avoid the path we will be safe or else we will be suffering ever time we tread in those paths.
You can ask, ‘how do I know?’ I can confirm you by saying, “I struggle daily handling with my guilt, contrition and regrets…”
Let me give an example…
I have a procrastinating spirit working within me which always whispers in my ears lovingly, “Baby, we can finish it tomorrow…” And I listened to my darling friend and suffer with loads the very next day. I regret, feel penitent about it and repent, “I will never keep things for the last moment…”
And… my buddy comes the second day again with more amazing proposals in his hands to allure me to take a break and do it tomorrow.
This was just a very simple and small instance that I gave. But when there is life changing events happen as a result of our mere regrettable actions then it is very dangerous. Sulagna set an example by working on her regrets and turning the other way by shifting to a different career path; She mentioned it in detail in the Mega Article yesterday.
Regrets should be the stumbling blocks for us so that we can turn right away and move towards the right direction. If we are not then it’s no point regretting.
It’s been a long time since we spoke last. Hope you’ve been doing great (though I also hope you’ve been missing me a bit 😉 ).
Today we talk about regrets.
When our editor, the inimitable Chiradeep da, presented us with the upcoming Candles Online blog topics a couple of weeks back, I thought the chance to talk about regrets couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
Today I stand at a unique point of time in my life.
Tomorrow is my last day at work with my current employer.
“What’s so special about that?” You might think.
Nothing except tomorrow is also (what I hope to be) the last day of corporate employment in my life!
Yes, dear friends, tomorrow I become a proud career-shifter!
“That’s all very good but how is all this related to regrets?” You must be thinking.
Let’s get to that.
In case you remember almost a year back I poured my heart out to you, talking about the all-encompassing sense of ennui that had engulfed me, mainly due to things not really working out in the professional front. Life had become a “futile series of repetitive actions” to me. Meaning, fulfillment, a sense of achievement, alignment with my values – essential elements of a successful and rewarding professional life – were all missing from mine.
To be honest, the signs had started to show at quite an early stage of my corporate career stint (Ooooh the joy of that edit!). As early as 2012-13 I was already toying with various ideas of alternative professions. I would ferret out details of illustrious alumni of my alma mater in alternative careers (i.e. non mainstream corporate/start-up) like the current director Dr. Ashish Nanda, Prof. Ravi Jagannathan, Rashmi Bansal, Sidin Vadukut etc. I had considered everything – from becoming a school teacher, to becoming a CAT/MBA coach, government servant, full time blogger… (I already took a few steps in this direction, and www.loveinindia.co.in is the result!). You name it, I’d thought about it. I considered academia too, but the 5 year gestation period in the form of PhD studies was a deal-breaker. Or so I thought.
And then that fateful day happened. I describe a particular experience at work in my earlier article:
After more than three long years of spending a disappointed, perpetually demotivated, depressed life, I had finally hit rock bottom.”
What I didn’t mention then is that that special day was also the day it suddenly struck me like an elephant in the room – academia was the only way to go for me. 5 years, 10 years… whatever the expected PhD duration, it couldn’t be worse than wasting the rest of my life in a cubicle having zero impact on the world and zero meaning to myself. Suddenly it all started to make sense.
I had never liked anything better than the pursuit of knowledge.
Things like math and coding gave me more satisfaction than any other activity.
Everyone in my immediate and extended family is an academic. There are few people more familiar with and influenced by the academic way of life than me.
OMG! How could I not have thought of this obvious path earlier? I was going to pursue doctoral studies and eventually a career dedicated to research and teaching. It’s evident right?
Today, exactly a year from that day, do I have regrets to have wasted 5 of the most productive years of my life in cubicles being a keyboard monkey? Yes. As hard as it might be to admit that to myself.
At a deeper level, do I regret having invested time, money, and humungous pre-admission preparatory efforts in going to the top b-school of the country to earn an MBA? Absolutely yes. I’m a lover of science at heart, and doing an MBA was definitely a WRONG decision. Did I say “wrong”? Wrong!
You probably realize how challenging it was to admit those giant, weighty facts to myself when we, as a family, first took the decision that I was starting over.
It’s extremely hard to acknowledge regrets, ’cause that usually means largely irreversible suboptimal life decisions, the repercussions of which would affect us for the rest of our lives. It freaks us out. But I’ve learnt it’s important to guard against falling into the all too common vicious cycle of telling yourself lies in a vain attempt to avoid regrets. If you have made a mistake, the sooner you accept that it was a mistake, the better. If you tell yourself this was somehow “meant to be” you risk being stuck with a suboptimal life! And that’s a bad kind of forever.
I believe this was part of the reason it took me so long to accept the truth, let sunk costs be sunk costs, cut my losses and move forward. I, like most, had spent too much time trying to tell myself that I didn’t have career regrets and it’ll all somehow work out. But you can’t square a circle and you can’t teach a fish to fly.
Yes 5 (work) + 2 (B-school) years of my life were basically… umm… let me put it this way – a waste. Well apart from the life lessons, the whole coming of age coaching which 5 years of corporate (I guess any kind of) employment gives you. Oh and the road trips around Mumbai. 🙂
But here’s the thing – I’m glad the waste is 7 years and not 37 years. It could be the latter. I could’ve accepted life as an everyday drudgery like the thousands of top MBA graduates, who, like me, realize a few years into “real life” that being a corporate high-flyer is a daily challenge, and not in the way you think. Even if you earn a ton of money, which many (not all) of us don’t, if you take into account the cost of living in the megacities where the highest paying jobs are, like Mumbai, London or the San Francisco Bay Area. Just ask any MBA who has graduated within the last 7 years.
It’s also important to be honest with yourself about which ones are your real regrets and which ones aren’t. If you make a mistake here, you might again be stuck with wrong decisions.
For a long time I thought I was just going through a “grapes are sour” syndrome professionally. Maybe I was bitter I couldn’t bag a plush day zero job? Maybe I didn’t have what it takes to become the most successful in the corporate world, like a CEO, or a partner or something? And then I tried to place myself in their shoes and asked myself, “What would I feel like if I were made a partner tomorrow and I was earning 5 crores a year?”
I really tried to picture that.
I would still die with my only achievement being probably improving the bottom-line of a few companies. Most of who sell soap. Or steel. Or software.
“Today I die content to have helped sell a million more sachets of shampoo in India than would ever have been possible without me! Oh and I helped create the brand identity of a totally new detergent!”
PS: Incidentally, yesterday I had coffee with the same ex-boss referred to as Bob in the last article, upon his invitation, “for old times’ sake”, before leaving Bombay for the foreseeable future. Lol. (Did I say “permanently”? Did I say “forever”? “For good”?? Boy I can hardly contain my perhaps foolhardy excitement. Goodbye isn’t always a bad word. And some goodbyes are meant to be forever. They signify happy endings. I wish my farewell to corporate employment is one of those.)
Author’s Bio: Sulagna Dasgupta has been writing about self-improvement and relationships for more than 5 years. Her website “www.loveinindia.co.in” is India’s first dedicated relationships & marriage blog, also offering FREE unlimited anonymous relationship counselling. Her mission is to facilitate more open thinking about love & relationships in India in the long run.