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  • Escaping the Grip of Regret, Part 1


    Regret is a power that can bring you to your knees.  A great many of us have experienced its power.  Sinatra may sing “Regrets, I’ve had a few / But then again, too few to mention.”  This sounds admirable and enviable, but over the course of a lifetime, most of us have to deal with some very powerful rendez-vous with the way it might have been.

    Regret can be experienced at any point in life, but often at mid-life, regret can start to take on a particular intensity.  As we go through the journey of life, the awareness that we have only a finite amount of life left, a finite number of possibilities open to us, can lead us to an exquisite hyper-sensitivity to the regret we have for all the choices we could have made differently, roads we could have walked, ways that it might have turned out that it did not.  In other words, the life unlived.

    How can we live with this awareness?  We may attempt to shrug it off, pretend it isn’t there.  But very often for us it is there, often at times like 3 o’clock in the morning, when all the spirits tend to come out.  Not a few of our addictive and compulsive behaviours — including workoholism — can stem from attempts to run away from regret.  But how can you or I run away from something so close to ourselves?

    In my next few postings, I will be examining the phenomenon of regret, and the way it impacts us.  It can have a huge grip on us.  It can even imprison us, and embitter us beyond words.  But, let me ask a question that might seem strange:  Is there health in regret?  It’s clear how regret can be a poison, but, oftentimes, the cure for the poison is made from the poison itself.

    Does regret play a part in your life?  Do you ever find the experience of regret both inescapable and painful?  I’d welcome any of your comments on this post.

    My Next Post: Escaping the Grip of Regret, Part 2: Understanding the Power of Regret

    I wish you all the very best on your  personal journey to wholeness,

    Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst


    PHOTO CREDIT: © Cammeraydave |

    © 2010 Brian Collinson

    1. Elona hartjes
      July 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm -

      Yes, regret has paid a part in my life recently. The regret had to do with a relationship I wished was closer. But, Having read this in Tuesdays with Morrie, I no longer feel regret.
      “There is no formula to relationships. They have to be negotiated in loving ways, with room for both parties, what they want and what they need, what they can do and what their life is like.” (p.177,178)

      1. Brian C
        August 4, 2010 at 9:45 am -

        Thank you very much for your comment, Elona. I think that a great deal of regret in peoples’ lives is fundamentally connected with relationships, either because we wish they had gone in a different direction, or because of things that we might have said or done — or wished that we had said or done. It can take a great deal of courage to “let go” in relationships, and to just let the other person be who they are.

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