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The Power of Regret

We all have regrets, and that is ok, it is also a natural human emotion that helps us thrive, if you are willing to let it. That’s the message of the book The Power of Regret by Daniel Pink.

Regret makes us human and makes us better. At its core, regret is a negative emotion, with two additional elements – comparison and blame.

First, when we compare our current state with “what might have been if only…,” we get regret. Second, negative emotion becomes regret when we assign blame to ourselves.

When we are living in regret, we have two ways of thinking about out past: at least or if only. At least is rare and we say things like “at least” I didn’t come last or “at least” no one saw I was getting it wrong. The second one – if only – is typically how we think about the past. “If only” I had stayed home that day, “if only” I had been listening, “if only” I had spoken to them.

So how can regret makes us better? Regret can do three things:
• improve decisions;
• boost performance;
• deepen meaning.

The key, Pink suggests, is that when it comes to regret, we must view our feelings (especially the negative ones that come when we think about the past) as a tool for thinking.

If you commit to not avoiding or wallowing in your emotions, and instead confront them, you can use them as a catalyst for better future behaviour.

Pink says there are four core regrets: foundation, boldness, moral, and connection regrets.

Foundation Regrets
Foundation regrets sound like “If only I’d done the work.” The failure to be prudent or responsible in some area of our life. When our futures don’t live up to our hopes, regret follows.
Boldness Regrets
Boldness regrets sound like “If only I’d taken that risk.” People are much more likely to regret the things that they didn’t do than the things that they did.
Moral Regrets
Moral regrets sound like “If only I’d done the right thing.” Most of us want to be good people, but life gives us plenty of opportunities to be otherwise. When we take the low road, we often don’t feel bad immediately – it’s often a slow burn into the future. Moral regrets usually hurt the most and last the longest.
Connection Regrets
Connection regrets sound like “If only I’d reached out.” These regrets come from relationships that have come apart at the seams, or that are left incomplete, or we didn’t pursue.

Which regret rattles your cage?

When will you start using your regret/s to improve yourself?

Let me know what you think?

About David Lawson

Finding the Light is a locally owned and operated counselling and life coaching business based in Bundaberg. We seek to empower our clients to find their way forward to a better life by using the approaches of counselling or coaching. If this blog article has raised more questions please contact us by email or call us on 0407 585 497 to arrange a time for us to discuss the article. Mention this blog and we will give you a FREE 30 minute session to discuss.

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