The reason why regret is so powerful is because it is a narrative we allow to take root in our minds. We construct this story of what could have been. And we label that turning point ‘if only’. It is a perfectly written story about an alternate reality which is completely within your control. It moves the way you want it; the central character (imaginary you) does not get into accidents nor do other misunderstandings or unlucky events befall on him/her. You can visualise it so clearly it is almost real.
Except it isn’t. None of that is even remotely close to what would have happened if you had made that different decision: whether it is having learnt piano when you were six, picked up tennis when you were 13 or having dated or married someone else, or gone on a different career and more. Your regret story would not feature the car accident that happened on the expressway, or the “fact” you have a different teenage child who got himself into drugs and gangs as opposed to being neurotic but intelligent.
Now compare it with the narrative you have about your life right now. What do you have? Is there any stories about you rising up to challenges, or going against the odds? Any reflections about the deep and meaningful friendships you had? Any considerations to how you come to appreciate the depth of your humanity or the fragility of life as your loved ones brushed against death? If we take more time to reflect and build the richer stories of our lives that we truly live. If we just consider more deeply what are the narratives we can construct based on the reality of our own lives, we can be more present, less FOMO, and less regretful of things.
So what is stopping you? Why are you still living with regrets?