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Living with regret

Everyone has a different relationship with regret that may be unhealthy if handled incorrectly. It is important to avoid the different extremes of handling regret early on in life, especially as a teenager.

Art by Ria Talukder

Art by Ria Talukder

Rachel Brauer, Secretary and Business Manager

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Many adults are able to recite the mistakes they have made in their life, including their high school experiences, but these regrets should not define who they are as people or be forgotten, however. They should allow them to grow in the future.

Regrets are the choices we wish we could change and things we fail to do that we wish we had done, resulting in unhappiness, disappointment, or remorse, According to Psychology Today. This type of intense weight on someone’s shoulders could affect their mental health and take control over one’s life, but it does not have to.

Some regrets can significantly change the rest of a person’s life, but regrets should not define who one is as a person. This regret could be a sports injury that derails a dream career as a professional athlete or a teen pregnancy that affects someone’s life more personally. Even in cases of these types of regrets, healing and dedication can allow people to move past them and be successful considering that success is subjective.

Not allowing regrets to consume someone’s life is important, but researcher Neal Roese from Psychology Today found in his studies of younger people that teens favored regret because of its “informational value in motivating corrective action.” For example, regret can be reminders for people not to make the same mistakes again, which is necessary to grow as human beings.

“Regret, in some ways, can be a positive thing; you can learn from it,” Tim Dowling, psychologist, said. “If you regret doing something, hopefully you take something from that and avoid doing the same mistakes over again. [If] you hold onto it for too long and you start obsessing over it [then] it could keep you from fully living your life. Regret itself isn’t a bad thing, but it could be if it gets out of control.”

Some people, however, do not use regrets to motivate but to tear themselves down. Impressionable teens are, at times, raised to remind themselves of their mistakes constantly or to let go of them completely. These two extremes can be influenced by different cultural, traditional, and/or religious beliefs that are not questioned because of, so called, norms passed down from generation to generation.

Some households enforce a harmful mentality when dealing with regret that can affect teens and how they handle what they are going through. In some cases, parents promote constant mindfulness towards how their child is affecting others in their daily life creating more regrets from magnifying ultimately insignificant mistakes. This can prevent teens from being able to live a healthy and happy life.

At this extreme, teens are most likely not learning from their regrets, and instead they are more worried about how they are viewed by their parents. They will not be able to gradually move on and improve as a result of their mistakes, because this method instills fear instead of motivation. Teenagers will stay stuck in their past, according to the Huffington Post, and some of the reasoning for this comes from ignorance and obliviousness.

On the other end, some parents, although they have good intentions, teach their kids to forget every regret they have. This way of life may be as detrimental to a teen as the other extreme. The mentality this kind of lifestyle creates can lead to repeating past mistakes and possibly feeling unmotivated to succeed in one’s desired dreams.

A “live today like there’s no tomorrow” mentality can be beneficial to a point, but someone may not learn from their past or regret what they did so they will do the same thing in the future, According to The Guardian. Some people consider the “no regrets” lifestyle to be the middle ground which is the healthiest way to live. This can be true for the people who can still grow and change their mindsets.

A middle ground when dealing with regret is ideal and sought after in order to have a healthy and fulfilling life. Although everyone’s definition of this is unique to them, mistakes should be for the past and self improvement should be for the future.

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Living with regret