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Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to Live Without Regrets

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor


Regret is a phenomenon which results from the actions of man. The word Regret moves with a negative connotation of failure and utter disappointment. Things having not moved the way it was planned is a harbinger of regret.

According to the Wikipedia, Regret is often “a feeling of sadness, shame, embarrassment, depression, annoyance, or guilt, after one acts in a manner and later wishes not to have done so.”

Regret moves with a common phrase “Had I known…” Affected individuals show deep remorse, expression of downcast, pain and sorrow. In severe cases, Regret causes emotional breakdown which destabilises the human health status, making him/her to be physically, mentally and socially unfit. 

Note - Living without an atom of Regrets in life is practically impossible but strategic measures can be taken to curtail the reoccurrence of regrets in our lifetime.

 Regret as a phenomenon can be classified into three:

a) Short term regrets (STR)
Short term regrets results from actions that affects us negatively for a short duration of time. Spanning probably between twelve months to two years. STR have a short duration due to the immediate availability of resources to cushion the regrets and the resilient nature of the individual.
E.g., having no money at hand can be a STR because money can be gotten when we strive.

b) Medium term regrets (MTR)
Medium term regrets tend to span between three to five years. MTR tends to appear as serious as having the possibility of becoming long term but along the line, it suddenly tenses off.
E.g., the occurrence of a fire incident in a house with no death casualties can be an MTR because issues may appear complex but can be rectified with time.

c) Long term regrets (LTR)
Long term regrets affect our lives for a long duration of about ten to twenty years or for a lifetime. LTR are very serious in nature. Activities and actions that lead to such possibilities should be handled with extremely stringent and precautionary measures to avoid its occurrence.
The impact of LTR is usually enormous, destroying and destabilising. In severe cases, suicide attempts have occurred as victims believe that wallowing in such regret is surely the end of the world.
E.g., a man who visits a Health clinic and tests positive for HIV is a victim of LTR because HIV practically has no cure at the moment.

The gravity of any regret one have in life depends on the nature of the actions one takes and the possible duration of the regret that results from the action.
So what can we do to minimise and possibly erase the occurrence of regrets?

Let’s say due to human error we find ourselves in short term regrets. But there must be things we can do to reduce the possibility of medium term regrets and erase to the barest minimum the occurrence of long-term regrets. Let it be, we made our own share of mistakes but have no regrets.

“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.” – D. H. Lawrence

We can possibly do the following;

1. Avoid Procrastination:
According to the Wikipedia, Procrastination “is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.”

Procrastination often occurs because the concerned individual is possibly waiting for a very favourable time when all conditions are perfect. But such situations hardly exists and in most cases, the unexpected occurs.

Thus procrastination can lead to regrets. One is advised to do things immediately when necessary and not when you think your body feels like doing it. The human flesh is naturally lazy, hates pain but craves for pleasure. Move away from the comfort zone to get achievements and avoid regrets. Always do things when others are doing it.

My father once asked me; do you open your shop to start selling when others are closing their shop and are retiring home at evening back to their family as the night draws near? I answered no.

2. What You Do:
“Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” – Lord Chesterfield
This means that if you are going to spend time doing a piece of work, you should do it as well as possible. Some people take everything or most things for granted. Thus allowing insignificant things become conspicuous and significant and occupy strategic positions in one’s life.

Some people don’t give their best in what they have decided to spend their time doing, thus creating room for unnecessary mistakes and regrets. Unexpected events occur and it’s advised to take whatever is worth doing very serious to be on the safer side.

3. What You Need or Want:
Can you differentiate between wants and needs? If you can do that, it will help a lot in choice making and decision taking. But if you can’t, then it will surely affect your actions in life.

A need is something you have to have, something you can’t do without. A good example is food. If you don’t eat, you won’t survive for long and will be prone to preventable ailments.

A want is something you would like to have, it is not absolutely necessary, but it would be a good thing to have. At some point in life, something can be a need at a moment and the next moment it becomes a want.
Your ability to discern and different in such situations can help save the occurrence of regrets.

4. Heed Warnings and Precautions:
A warning is a statement or event that warns of something or serves as a cautionary example. It informs someone in advance of a possible danger, problems or other unpleasant situations.

"No one knows caution like regret." - Africa

Precautions are measures taken in advance to prevent something dangerous, unpleasant, or inconvenient from happening.
Failure to pay attention to, take notice of warnings and precautions can be very detrimental as it can lead to regrets which could have been prevented. Neglect no one, be observant of what surrounds you and what you do.

5. Karma:
“What goes around comes around” or “as you sow, so shall you reap” is the basic understanding of how Karma, the law of cause and effect, works.
Karma teaches us that for every action we take, we have a result which can be of positive or negative nature. A person’s action, whether good or bad, will often have consequences for that person.

If you be of good character, goodness will come to you. If you be of evil intent, evil will beseech you. No one plants a corn and expects a yam for whatever we give we get in return.
How you treat people will determine how they will treat you. All these boils down to the glaring fact that being aware of the law of karma will help prevent unnecessary regrets.

6. Take Charge of Your Life:
It’s often a pity that some people even when they are of age and old enough to make decisions for themselves, still allow other people who have no or partial idea of what his/her life will turn out to be to make decisions for them. Ranging from the choice of career, to whom to marry, to what they do with their entire life.

They end up laying blame on people and do not take sole responsibility for the actions they have taken. Because they feel that the decision wasn’t fully of their own making. Seeking advice is not bad but everything has limits and silence is consent.

Any suggestion that tampers with your personal joy and fulfilment in life, should be reconsidered and given a second thought. Life regrets arising from such situation often have ugly ends as they are usually of long term duration in nature.

Regrets arising from decisions you took is more bearable compared to regrets arising from what someone told you to do due to your indecisiveness. The victims of this situation often curse the people who they claimed pushed them into the mess they found themselves in, at the very end.
Take charge of your life and know what you want.

7. Don’t Trust Too Much:
To trust is to believe that someone or something is reliable, good, and effective. However, do not trust too much especially people with questionable character.

Without trust, virtually no transaction will be possible on earth, including our communion with God. But we have to trust as little as we can to get things going.
Perhaps, you are looking for whom to trust. It’s safer to put your trust in God because man will only disappoint you.

Men say… Show me and I will Trust you.
God says… Trust me and I will Show you.

When God directs your path, regrets are avoidable.
When Man directs your path, regrets are inevitable.

8. Avoid Anger:
Anger arises when one has been tampered with emotionally. Anger is expressed when one acts antagonistically towards someone or something that has wronged him/her deliberately or unintentionally.

Anger comes with unpredictable forms of actions, it can be likened to a raging storm that can possibly destroy if not put under control. People say and do all sorts of things out of anger only to be faced with regrets at the end of the day.

In such situations, one wishes to reverse what has been destroyed as a result of uncontrolled anger. But it’s practically impossible as only amends can be made and not fully erasing of mistakes as if nothing happened, scars are left which give rise to regrets. Put anger in check to avoid regrets.

Conclusion:
At every point in time in our lives, we regret certain actions we may have taken mistakenly or gullibly. At the same time, it’s not impossible to curtail the occurrence of regrets because the presence of it only shortens one’s life span.
The 8 tips given on how to live a life free of regrets will only work if you and I put it into practice.
Start now because time and tide wait for no one.

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