Mistakes are a part of what makes us human. Nobody, not even you, is immune. When we make mistakes, it can become an opportunity to find our best learning.
But how can we stop ourselves from making unnecessary mistakes, before they become our deepest regrets?
Bronnie Ware is an extraordinary woman. She had the honour of having the most intimate conversations with those who are in the final moments of their lives. Although her job description read ‘palliative carer,’ her key role was always as a listener and confidant.
Writing the article “Regrets of the dying,” in 2009 was Bronnie’s way of paying homage to those who passed on their wisdom before leaving this life. It speaks of the biggest regrets we have in life when our time ends.
The article touched the hearts of millions worldwide. Because of this impact, Bronnie goes on to further share her wisdom. She has a deep commitment to living by her own terms and is a real-life example of what regret-free living.
The Difference Between a Mistake and Regret
We shouldn’t judge ourselves on the mistakes we make, because ultimately it’s one of the best ways to learn. So, why when we make a mistake, does it morph into an unshakeable regret?
“All regrets are mistakes, but not all mistakes are regrets,” says Bronnie. “The only thing that changes a mistake into a regret is our own harsh judgement on ourselves.”
This is, without question, the only difference. When you think about it, if you take out the regret element, they’re only mistakes. “It’s only our opinion of it that then says, ‘I’m going to carry the weight of this mistake forever. I’m going to judge myself; I’m going to let it hold me back.’ ”
Regret is one of those deeper parts of us that will always hinder our pursuit for joy. You must remember, it was just a mistake – we are human after all.
Love Yourself If You’re Sitting In Regret
Sometimes we can’t help but feel that pang of all-consuming regret. It’s one of those things that can stay with us even years after the fact.
Bronnie has found that compassion is one of regrets best cures, saying to yourself “I’m going to love myself with compassion and kindness and forgiveness.”
Look back on your mistake with empathy and kindness, and acknowledge that is not who you are now. Compassion is such a powerful force in this world. To make it work for us, it has to start with ourselves.
Learn from your mistake, do your best to never do it again, but above all love yourself.
Give Yourself Some Joy
When was the last time you had a little piece of joy?
Bronnie’s article “Regrets of the Dying,” breaks down the five biggest regrets people have as they come towards the last moments of their lives.
The final regret was that of “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”
Self-love is not about you not caring for or about other people. Instead, it’s you treating yourself with that same compassion, patience and gentleness as you would someone else. To do that you should prioritise finding your joy.
“When I honour my joy and leave space for my joy, I’m really capable and present with my life,” explains Bronnie.
Do some of the things that you love to do, “That might mean sitting with a 1,000-page novel and just tuning out from the world, or jumping on my pushbike and going for a ride,” says Bronnie. Things that light you up and bring you joy.
Carving out time to honour your joy and listen to what your heart wants is so important.
Personal growth is a part of life as is our joy. Regrets certainly don’t have to be.
Time is a precious gift that we have all been given. Don’t waste even one second of it on regrets. Instead, engage in the things that bring your joy, no matter how small they are. Should you start to feel regret, approach it with compassion and kindness.