People have a difficult time letting go of the past because they are held back by unfinished business. They may regret choices they have made or feel guilty about past actions. As long as guilt and regret are not resolved, it is difficult to move forward. The Regret Epidemic
Regret is an emotion that feels similar to depression or sadness. It also feels like guilt, but it isn’t the same thing. Sometimes a wave of regret seems to come out of nowhere. You might become aware of it when you lose something or someone, or when you meet someone from your past. It is a common feeling in our culture for several reasons.
1. We have too many choices. Since we have so many options, there are many more opportunities to regret the paths we didn’t take.
Example: When Linda was a senior at a major university, she interviewed with over 30 companies on campus. She was offered jobs in five different cities and had a difficult time choosing. In the end, she moved to Los Angeles and began an executive training program in a large company. A few years later, she began to wonder whether she had made the wrong choice. She thought she might have been better off in Kansas City, which had been her second choice. The regret leaves her feeling stuck and dissatisfied.
2. Endless possibilities. Another factor causing many of us to feel regret is that in the American culture, there is a belief that life has no limits. Our culture has an insatiable appetite for new experiences, adventure, and newness. When faced with the reality that certain things will not work out or change, we find it hard to accept.
Example: Karen has turned 45. She has never married and has no children. She has always believed that “There is always tomorrow” and “I have plenty of time to make my mark.” But now, realizing that she may never be a mother and probably won’t be the CEO of her company, she is feeling like life has passed her by.
3. No rules. Along with all of these options, our lives have become confusing because there are few guidelines for what choices we should make.
Example: Most women who have children struggle with the choices of what role employment should play in their lives, and many women feel like they made the wrong choice. Options include staying home with the children, working full-time at a demanding profession, or choosing a less demanding or part-time job.
Example: Many people feel compelled to continue on the ladder of success as long as they are being rewarded for it. When work becomes demanding and is no longer fun, it is hard to turn down promotions and pay increases in favor of less demanding, more satisfying work. People feel locked in to their career tracks and don’t know how to get off the treadmill.
NEXT: Four More Reasons and What to Do About It. coming soon! And if you can’t wait, give me a call: 303-250-5138. I’d be happy to talk with you!