Note: More to Life with Faith and Lois is designed to be heard, not read. We hope you’ll listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that won’t be on this page. Our transcripts are generated with speech recognition software and may contain errors. 

 

Lois                        

Welcome to the podcast, More to Life with Faith and Lois.

Faith                   

I’m Faith

Lois                          

And I’m Lois.

Faith                      

Our podcast explores life’s many transitions that inspire and daunt us.

Lois                       

Welcome back, Faith.

Faith

It’s so good to be back.

Lois                         

You know, it’s been such a joy to journey together in this podcast and with so many others who are connecting with us. And last week we talked about aging. And the beauty of living just hit me like a ton of bricks as I listened to our podcast again, and I’m just so happy to be doing this together with you. Isn’t it fun? It really is. And by the way, if you’re enjoying any of our podcasts, we really hope you’re going to share this with someone and rate our podcast. Did you know you can do that? You can go to any of your platforms and you can rate it on, you know what you think about us and if you want to leave a comment, that would be awesome as well. Today we’re going to jump into a very complicated podcast. We’d like to move these things around. Today is Episode 65. Transition: The Impact of Regret.

Faith                    

Wow. And we all have had them, right? I mean regret kind of comes with life. Yes. And it can either move us forward or can really hold us back.

Lois                        

And regret is an emotional reaction if we’re to define it. When we think that where we are now could be better if we had only done something different in the past. So we really want to separate out. Regret isn’t about bad things happening to you. Regret is really about something you did or you failed to do and what your perception is about that. And by the way, if you want a real treat, Faith and I do so much research as we jump into these podcasts. And there is a Ted talk by Kathryn Schulz titled “Don’t Regret Regret” and we recommend it. It’s out there. It’s 16 minutes. It’s fabulous. So regret. Faith, a very loaded word. What springs up for you when you think of that word?

Faith                     

Well, there’s a heaviness that comes with regret, a burden, that feeling of I have failed, I missed the mark. I should have or I shouldn’t have. And so there comes judgment and condemnation. There’s a lot of things that can come with regret that can eventually, if it’s too heavy, can really crush us and to where we can’t shake it off and that we think we kind of maybe put it on the back shelf, but maybe 10 years later it comes back in and we remember it and like, ah, we have that feeling like, oh no, I can’t believe I did that. And, and so there’s that pain of regret that can linger unless we face it and deal with it so that we can move beyond it.

Lois                       

And that’s precisely what we hope to do with you today because, you know, I used to be the persuasion I would always tell people – Do you have any regrets, Lois? Because I’ve made so many mistakes. Oh no, I don’t have any regrets. You know, I mean, everything taught me it was a stepping stone to the next thing, which in part is true, but the truth is I have done things that I really could have done a different way, could have done better, could have improved on. Now, if I only focus on that and it takes me down a rabbit hole, I have no place to turn and I have no place to grow. But the truth is, as Faith mentioned, if we don’t work through some of these regrets and some of the ways we handled situations that may not have been the best, even with all that we felt that we had to offer us, if we don’t work it through, they’re going to come back. And we keep thinking that, oh, if we just push it down and say it didn’t really mean anything, it won’t come back. Well it will. So how do we deal with those kinds of things?

Faith                     

You have to be honest first, be honest with yourself, be honest with the reality. I did do things, just as you stated, that I wished I hadn’t done or I could have done it a different way and people wouldn’t have been hurt. And so we do have to own that sometimes we make decisions in life that we think are the best for ourselves in the moment, but they hurt other people. And those are probably the strongest ones to take seriously because of the wounding that happened as a result of our choice. And so to come back and to own that, to work it through for yourself first and then to be able to go to them and say, I can totally see that what I did really hurt you in this way and I am truly sorry. So now you’re saying what you’re sorry for in how you or your life impacted them rather than just saying, I’m sorry. That doesn’t work with, that doesn’t work. One big blanket of apology. It doesn’t work. What? What are you sorry for? And it’s like, well your decision really hurt them. And so that can resolve the regret feeling. That can be okay. I’ve released it, I’ve resolved that it’s come to a place of resolution and I think that’s a lot of times of what we don’t do with regret. We don’t move into resolution.

Lois                       

That’s right. But there is this element of learning to live with regret that allows us to be functional in our lives and also humane, right? Because when we absolutely ignore it, then the pain that you just mentioned for other people who’ve had to live through a decision that we’ve put out there for them is very real still and we haven’t acknowledged it. So very interesting. But Amy Somerville runs what’s called the regret lab at the University of Miami and Ohio and I need to go and check it out. She actually says that their research in the lab is focused on understanding when and why people think about what might have been, and the impact of these thoughts in applied everyday contexts. And I think the reason that’s so good is she says, regret only becomes toxic when it’s habitual, but there’s a value to it. And I do think in our culture today, we have somehow dismissed this that we don’t have to think about when actually we can bring it to the surface for a time, examine it, deal with it, maybe make amends, whether it’s to forgive ourselves or to forgive others or to ask for that forgiveness. And then we can step back into our lives as a fully functional and humane person. And so, you know, life does happen. We make these mistakes and with regrets, one of the first things I’ve had to deal with is there is something to learn always in everything.

Faith                   

Oh, always that there’s nothing that we’ve ever gone through that is not a place of it becomes our teacher. Even the negative things that we’ve done that we might have the regrets about if we will look at it instead of condemning ourselves for it, look at it and say, Whoa, what did I learn? And so through life I’ve learned that that didn’t work. That just didn’t work and I don’t want to do that again. And now when I repeated it, then I had to look at why am I repeating what isn’t working? Why am I doing things that hurt me and hurt others and it’s not working? And I had to take responsibility for my own personal journey. That was about me and I had to figure that out. And when I did, oh well, that made, you know, it made so much sense then that was when the behavior stopped. So sometimes we need to get really serious about looking at our lives and looking at the things that aren’t working and learn something from it.

Lois                       

Because regret really is about paying attention. Yes, it’s exactly what you said. You’ve done something and you’ve spotted a problem and you ask yourself, what could I do differently? You know, we’ve all heard of the definition of insanity and that’s just that you just keep doing the same thing over and over again. But there’s no room for regret with insanity because you have decided that I can do anything I want and you can’t stop me. Well, most of us aren’t insane. Well, no, we’re not. We’re really not. And so regret helps us take that pause, take that shift and say, what could I have done differently? And even if there’s no way to go back and change any of it, it gives us that, that thinking process where then we can begin to understand how did this affect someone else or my job position or my children.

Faith                    

Yes, it’s mainly how you reacted in situations. And we have to take ownership for our own reactions in life so that we can become responders in life.

Lois                      

Some regrets are real small ones like you know what you did in the morning, like I just ate a chocolate donut and I wish I wouldn’t have done that. But so that doesn’t require a great deal of do over. But there may be something else as you look at a regret that you could go back and change and we’re not encouraging you to go like unravel everything in your life. But take a look at some things that you know are still, you know, uncomfortable. . If there’s a rub, is there something you can do? Is there an action? Because I think sometimes that regret is there to remind us that maybe there’s something we could do.

Faith                   

And there’s a lot of condemnation, too, about our behaviors. And we see it more and more in this day and age of where people in public positions have made a mistake in their past and they are being condemned for it, clear into the current day. And sometimes that needs to happen because their behavior has not changed. But what grieves me is when I see someone who has legitimately learned from the behavior of their past and they have made a difference and they are living differently, that they still are being condemned. And I think that’s our fear, is that I’m going to be judged for this for the rest of my life. And that’s not what regret is meant to do. It’s meant to set you free from the things that happened in the past, to move through it, to learn from it so that you can live a different life that’s so much better.

Lois                      

And that’s one of the reasons that both for you and me, Faith, as we plod through this life and enjoy the things around us, we’re also very transparent. Yeah, and I think one of the reasons that many of us tell our stories and we share things is because you know what? This is what I did. I may not be proud of how I handled it in that moment, but this is where it is. This is where it came about. So if you have an issue, come to me because it’s out there, you know, and there’s no way to pull somebody down with that. If you keep something harbored and secret, even if your life has changed, that’s often when somebody comes back and plucks that out and says, wow, look what just happened. So if at all possible with whatever skeletons you may have hanging around, think about especially how to talk to the people with whom there is a relationship where there has been some fracturing, because that makes a lot of difference if somebody does decide to pull something out. Another thing is if you miss a flight, and this is such a great one, you know, when you think about regret, if you miss a flight and you missed it, you’re running up to the gate. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but I certainly have and it was like two minutes and the doors are shut and I can still see the plane out there, but they’re not going to let me on that plane. That level of regret is so huge than if I overslept and I didn’t get in the car and make it to the airport in time. When you almost make it someplace and you don’t, boy is that regret tough.

Faith                   

That’s not me because I’m always there three hours early.

Lois                        

Okay, so you don’t even know what this is like. I think sometimes when I get that close because I almost made it and the reason that regret hurts is because then I know it’s completely my fault.

Faith                    

So what?

Lois                      

Well, I missed my flight.

Faith                    

But I bet you got there at some point. I did. But that’s the important thing is that to look at the outcome and we can live with, I think that was so stupid. I can’t believe I did that. And we can beat ourselves up or we can say, wow, I don’t want to do that again. And I’m going to try to figure out what happened there and not do that again. But I’m okay. We’re so quick to move into taking that wet noodle out and start beating ourselves very quickly. Right. And, and that just only kind of locks in that regret a little longer.

Lois                      

So we’re trying to show you some different levels of regret, some that are a little more serious than others. And one other thing is what you mentioned earlier, we need to own what we’ve done. Yes, good, bad, indifferent, ugly, own it. Because if we don’t own our mistakes, somebody very well will come up and try to shine a light on you and get you to own your mistakes. So own it first.

Faith                 

Yes. And we don’t like to own it because of the shame. And so that’s another piece that comes around regret is that there is shame, humiliation, condemnation, and those are the things we don’t want to feel. So we like to kind of just move beyond it if we can or ignore it or blame ourselves or beat ourselves up the rather than feel some of those things. But you know, you don’t have to take on all that other junk, just deal with what didn’t work out.

Lois                       

Right. And learn from your teachers. I mean, this is, you know, there are so many that have gone before us who will say, yeah, the only way I could have gotten to where I am now is by making this big error in judgment that I wish I wouldn’t have made. But if I hadn’t made it, I wouldn’t be positioned for this. And I have to say that in my own life for all the mistakes I’ve made and I make plenty even today, just not ones that have big regrets, but still I know I will have something that I regret – if I can own it, it allows me to move through and to see where I’ve come and hopefully that I won’t repeat it again.

Faith                

That’s the whole point, right? That’s the goal and if you can do that, you’re well on your way.

Lois                        

So we’d like to look at some of the biggest regrets you might have and where they come from. If you decide to Google regrets, you can find a host of things that you might be kind of angry at yourself for. But we thought we’d throw a few out there and find out does this resonate with you at all?

Faith                  

That sounds good. Some of the biggest ones could be, you know, working at the expense of your family so that your family gets kind of lost and goes through the cracks. That’s a big one sometimes is that the fact that we’ve put our career and everything else before, people that really are meaningful in life and how many songs have been written on “Cat’s in the Cradle”, you know, and then all to depict that and the regret that’s in that song that it’s too late. It’s never too late. And if you have been, you know, driven or you’ve been working those 60 to 80 hour weeks to provide for your family, please know that it’s never too late to make some shifts. And some changes to come back around and to say, I need to invest into those that mean most to me in life.

Lois                       

Another big regret that comes up for a lot of people is either you didn’t stand up to a bully or you are or were a bully, and maybe you never addressed that issue. And you know it’s that angst that comes up when you see someone do something like that and you get really upset and then you realize that part of the reason you’re so upset is because – I was like them. And you might say that out loud. And I think one of the things you just said is so true. If you can revisit some of these regrets. And the reason we’re throwing these out there is because sometimes it’s good to just remind ourselves that we are great whole humans and we’re flawed. And if we look at our regrets from a perspective of how can we move through it, the strength we get is so huge, Faith.

Faith                

Oh it is. Most definitely is. And you don’t have to remain a bully if you were one.

Lois                     

That’s right. You can move through that, but that may be something that brings up a lot for you. And when you notice yourself getting really angry, there may be a reason for that.

Faith                    

And there’s addictions, too, whether it’s a phone addiction or whether it’s a drug addiction, alcohol, which takes you out of the actual living with others and being a part of. And it’s important to look at that and to say, yeah, that really happened, but have you made a change? Have you decided to maybe not look at your phone as much or to be on the computer as much or to deal with alcoholism or drug addiction or any other form of addiction that would take you out of, take you away from – the people you love, connections with friends and family. If you’ve done something about it, then let go of the regret and begin to live your life.

Lois                       

Another regret that some of us might have is losing a relationship with a family member or an old friend if there’s an estrangement. And that’s one that we can revisit. And sometimes we can find a way for reconciliation and something to move through. Other times we have to leave it and hold ourselves in a place of being precious and careful because there may not be a healing on this side of life that is possible.

Faith                   

Yeah. And, and you’re really talking about dealing with the areas of life that have the most importance and what you’ve done for that and what have you fed into it, what have you nurtured and planted. And if you’ve made a difference in that, then your life is good, your life is going to flourish and there’s gonna be no regrets at the end of that.

Lois                        

The reason we’re talking like this about is we don’t want shame to come in. Oh, there’s an estrangement then I have to be the one to fix it. There may not be a solution. And yet that might be a real regret that every now and then it’s good to revisit saying, okay, have I done everything? Is there something else I can do? Okay, I’m good with that. Let me have a cup of coffee.

Faith                 

To make it a little lighter. The bucket list thing, it’s a great idea by the way, because if you have a bucket list, you’re not going to have the regrets at the end of life saying, I didn’t do that. I wished I had gone on that trip. I wished I had gone on that cruise. I wish I had gone para – what’s that called? Parasailing? Parasailing, there you go. Sliding… I don’t know what that is.Whatever. Whatever adventurous thing. My trip to Ireland was one of my bucket lists. Oh my goodness. I am so glad I did it and I have no regrets that at the end of my life I didn’t go to Ireland. I had that experience and that’s a treasure. It becomes a treasure if you do the things before you can’t do them.

Lois                       

I love that. So we are looking at different regrets. The biggest regrets you might’ve had, and if you Google them, one of the ones that comes up right at the top of the list is my level of education. Did I get enough? Did I spend way too much time in an education? A course of study that yielded no results because I’m doing something completely different. This is something that we often kick ourselves for and so that isn’t anyone’s fault. There’s no, it’s what you chose to do and it just didn’t turn out that way with what your profession is. Or you’re a musician that’s unbelievable in your singing ability and you’ve chosen not to have that as your full time career because you needed to pay the bills. Those are things that you can look at that you can still have restorative measures that you may never be able to fully immerse yourself into.

Faith                 

Right? And take the joy out of those areas in your life and enjoy it for what it is. Don’t carry the heaviness of regret that it didn’t become the expectation that you thought it might become. Life has its twists and turns and it is so unpredictable. So if you are that amazing singer but you chose to have a family, or you decided somebody else cuts you out and you weren’t the one chosen, don’t worry about it. You were given a gift. Enjoy it, use it, but don’t have the regrets that you did not become the top person.

Lois                      

And if you have a regret of something that you’ve done, we encourage you, maybe this is a moment that you could think about. Is there a way to make an amend there? Maybe you’ve done all the amending you need to do, maybe you’ve had all the conversation. It’s a good thing to come back to it and say, yes I have done what I need to do. Or maybe there’s something more I could do. While we are whole, wonderful people there is always some refining and tuning we can do without introducing shame, because that’s the last thing we want to do.

Faith                  

Shame will hold us down. It’ll be a tether, it will hold you fast. And all of this is about soaring, is taking off and being, entering into what is more for life for you. You can’t, if you’re tethered by guilt and and all of that condemnation. No, deal with the regret. Make a different decision. What am I going to do now? And learn from it and move on.

Lois                       

You know, there is something to be said about a silver lining and Ralph Waldo Emerson has a fabulous quote. “Every calamity is a spur and a valuable hint.”

Faith                  

That’s really nice. I like that.

Lois                       

Think on that as you mull over any regrets you might have.

Faith                  

Facing our regrets and moving through them with humanity gives us the ability to face those things we may have wished we had handled differently, and finding a positive value nevertheless.

Lois                       

Please share this podcast with someone you know might benefit from a discussion of regrets that hover in and over their lives. And join us next week for Transition: The Impact of Addiction.

Faith                  

Get the latest news on our social media platforms and on our website, and please subscribe.

Lois                       

More to Life with Faith and Lois is a podcast to support, encourage and uplift you.

Faith                  

As you transition through all sorts of change, we want you to know there is more to life.

Lois                       

We’ll be back next week.