And just like that, it’s 2022, and I find myself once again re-visiting this blog disappointed at my lack of contribution, despite best intentions. It’s either a terrible habit neglecting this space for so long, or a worthwhile challenge in updating it at least once, annually. The latter makes me feel less regretful, so perhaps it’s the more productive option to dwell on.
I’ve never understood how some people can say they do not have any regrets. As inspiring as it is, it more so leaves me curious and perhaps a little discouraged that I haven’t experienced that kind of freedom myself.
I have a great many flaws, and one of them is overthinking and/or overanalysing: every situation, interaction, every thought and every word. Regret is inevitable for the over-thinker.
It isn’t something to be proud of, but it is something I am learning to acknowledge so that I can begin to amend my ways. Because regret is like a brother to guilt, who is a sister of shame; and this I know has been the true enemy of my progress across many aspects of my life.
It’s scary to write this, but the truth is, there are a lot of things that I’m ashamed about. Things from the past and of the present, things I can and can’t control. Insecurities come in all shapes and sizes and I’m certain not one of us is immune. How we feel about ourselves and how we believe we’re perceived by others, has great influence on the way navigate our lives; and I’d be able to recount right now all of the moments where shame has defeated me – hindering my growth and stealing my peace.
But I won’t do that here. Not today anyway.
All I’m compelled to say is that my recent revelations about shame are prompting me to make some significant mindset shifts. Because all shame has done thus far, is lead me to regret and ultimately, fear.
When you’re trapped in the belief that you who are or what you’ve done isn’t good enough, you stop listening to your own voice. Your sense of worthiness comes through validation from others – people who are themselves, so flawed. You overthink how people are reacting to you, you assume what they’re thinking of you and you expend your energy on trying to manage their emotions and meet their needs. And when those needs aren’t met, you quickly descend into regret. Regret that you could have done more. Better.
Dare I say that sometimes, that’s a good thing. To be able to examine one’s self and be accountable when real mistakes are made and real feelings are hurt.
But the consistent regret that accompanies the over-thinker, isn’t the healthy kind; rather it’s a state of perpetual shame that tells you “you’re wrong” or “you’re not enough.”
What I’ve learned this past year is that my ‘enough-ness’ can only be achieved through the grace of God, and so I must stop searching for it in people or in the world. No longer do I need to measure my worth by the standards of society and culture, nor allow the commentary and opinion of others to define me or dictate my choices.
Through God’s eyes, I am loved and worthy. He makes me so.
Whilst I know this deep in my heart and spirit, it’s hard to live out each day. Because human emotions – those as harmful as regret, guilt and shame – are volatile and easily used by the enemy to distract and destroy.
There’s a lot about my shame that I’m learning and discovering and mostly, working to weed out of my unconscious mind and conscious heart. What I’m sure of right now is that:
Shame of the past, is regret.
Shame of the present, is fear.
I don’t want regret or fear to rule over me anymore. I don’t want over-thinking to be the vehicle for either of those two things to thrive.
I may not be able to truly say “I have no regrets” as some do, but I can learn to forget them, so that I can better live for today.
Or in the words of the late, great Jonathan Larson:
There’s only us, there’s only this
Forget regret, or life is yours to miss
No other path, no other way
No day but today