There are plenty of words in the English language we probably should avoid.
Phrases like “if only” and “’no regrets,” just for starters.
Too many folks spend too much time playing out the scenarios of what might have been or woulda/coulda/shoulda. Only to discover energy and time was wasted on thoughts instead of actions that materialize.
Translation: Stuck on stupid.
Think of it like a car low on gas and the driver floors the accelerator. Doesn’t make the fuel last longer, does it? No more than idling the old stick shift in neutral helps get you to your destination any faster.
Another one that makes me shake my head is “no regrets.” Oh, sure, tons of people appear to enjoy saying the words. But are they believable?
In a new book on “The Power of Regret,” author Daniel Pink suggested that we should have regrets — over past words, choices or behaviors. Often, though, he said, it’s human nature to steer away from negative feelings, perhaps because we haven’t been taught how to handle them.
The only exceptions who get a free pass on this, he says, are very small children whose brains haven’t developed, those with a degenerative mentality or sociopaths. So if you boast being a “no regrets” person, which category do you blame it on?
Pink offers another approach to this.
Make those pesky regrets useful, a teachable moment if you will.
I like the idea that the mistakes and missteps we’ve made along the way can actually be valuable. Instead of sweeping anything that’s gone before under the carpet, or — shudder — justifying shoddy behavior toward anyone as being acceptable, I agree with the concept that we need regrets.
They can serve as a barometer, a guide and a flashlight if you will to shine a light on what went wrong so we may think differently, choose wiser and solve problems faster and better.
Consider the alternative.
If we do not learn from our past, if we are not willing to feel the pinch from having been sloppy or off-handed in something we said or did, couldn’t we potentially be inclined to repeat it?
I confess to occasionally lingering over past decisions and choices made along the way. Some were childish or stupid things, attributed to not knowing any better. But that can only hold up for so long.
At a certain point, if we’re still not learning or growing or maturing and continue stumbling through life like the proverbial bull in a china shop, well, after a while, others have little patience or willingness to offer a free pass.
Then, if we’re not careful, one day we may very well wake up and realize we’ve been left behind — be it career opportunities or others who simply couldn’t wait us for to reciprocate the love and respect everyone wants, needs and deserves.
As I always say, I may make new mistakes. But I’m absolutely bound and determined not to keep making the same familiar ones again and again.
Phyllis Moore is a speaker, author and former reporter with the News Argus. She also has a YouTube channel, Phyllisophically Speaking.