Regret

by Christian Thomas Golden

I could’ve made a better decision.

I should’ve made a better decision.

I didn’t.

What now? I messed up. I knew the right decision, yet I chose otherwise. I’m paralyzed. I’m depressed. I’m angry. I’m insecure. I’m anxious. I’m afraid. I’m stuck. I’m in chains. I can’t move. I see walls everywhere I look. This voice follows me wherever I go. It tells me I’ve failed. It tells me I can’t get away from it. It tells me I should be anxious, afraid, depressed, enslaved. It follows me everywhere I go. Why won’t it just leave me alone?

It’s me. That voice: it’s me. That anxiety: I bring it on myself. Those insecurities: I bring them on myself. That depression: I bring it on myself. That fear: I bring it on myself. That anger: I bring it on myself.

How do I stop it?

How do I do anything?

First, I must acknowledge that there is an obstacle. Second, I must determine my desired outcome of said obstacle. Third, I must recognize potential ways to approach the obstacle. Fourth, I must choose one of those ways. Fifth, I must equip myself with the tools necessary to execute that approach. Sixth, I must use the tools appropriately in order to successfully execute that approach.

1. Acknowledge the obstacle: But there is no obstacle! I’m just upset!

2. Determine Desired Outcome: I just don’t want to be upset anymore!

3. Methods of Approach: I’ll just do things that make me happy!

4. Choose Approach: I’ll just eat, drink, sleep, smoke…whatever!

5. Equip: What do you mean? That’s just not natural! Why can’t I just be happy?!

6. Use Tools Appropriately: Like I said, I don’t need tools! Shouldn’t I just be able to live a happy life?!

I know you’ve never thought any of those above responses. Yours were probably more like this:

1. Acknowledge the Obstacle: I’m always late to work.

2. Determine Desired Outcome: I make it to work on time.

3. Methods of Approach: (a) drive faster, (b) get up earlier, (c) don’t do anything

4. Choose Approach: (a) drive faster

5. Equip: (a) drive faster

6. Use Tools Appropriately: (a) drive faster

Okay, so I was more honest in these responses. However, I’m getting speeding tickets all the time. Plus, I’m still late to work (because of said speeding tickets).

The key: my method of approach.

I tried. I failed. I knew it would be more responsible to try option (b), but (a) sounded more enjoyable. I should have used option (b). I should have used option (b). I should have used option (b).

While I dwell on the fact that I should have used option (b), I’m no longer trying any options. I continue being late to work. I just wish I made the right decision. I should have used option (b).

Why don’t I just use option (b)?!

It might work.

I tried. I failed. One of the options didn’t work. Whew! Back to the old routine. There’s nothing I can do about it.

Isn’t that convenient? Isn’t that comfortable? Isn’t that predictable? Doesn’t that feel safe and cozy?

Isn’t that death?

Slap yourself! Get over it! Decide! Move on! Muscle through!

There’s a quote that goes something like “holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” – Buddha?

I’d like to propose the following: “Regret is like drinking poison, and you just wish you’d die already!”

 

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