Don’t Regret Your Regret

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Matthew Henry on Unsplash

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My uncle died recently. He was 98 years old and lived a long, healthy, fulfilling life. He asked to speak with me shortly before his death. He had a number of things he wanted to share, but this is the one that stood out to me: “I don’t regret anything.”

My first feeling was happiness for him, but that changed when I thought about it more.

Could that literally be true? Can you experience 98 years of life without regretting a single thing? If not, why is the denial of regret so common? Why does it matter to advisors?

The reality of regret

I regret many things. I wish I never hurt anyone’s feelings. I could have been kinder, less judgmental, less opinionated and certainly more empathetic. I could go on but I’m sure you get my drift.

I think most people identify with my feelings of regret. It’s hard to live without making mistakes, errors of judgment and doing things that, in retrospect, we have all at times been thoughtless or even downright stupid.

Why then do so many people deny feelings of regret?