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No regrets - Beazley H.

Beazley H. No regrets - Wiley publishing , 2004. - 234 p.
ISBN 0-471-21295-4
Download (direct link): noregrets2004.pdf
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The better we are at recognizing and managing our own emotions, the better we will be at recognizing the emotions we see in others. This capacity to identify with and understand the emotions of others is empathy. Empathy allows us to have meaningful and productive relationships. It also facilitates forgiveness, because it enables us to identify with the feelings, limitations, and imperfections of those who have hurt us and so to develop sympathy for them. How we relate to others and how we relate to ourselves are inextricably interwoven. The more compassion, acceptance, and empathy we have for others, the more compassion and acceptance we will have for ourselves. Empathy is one of the emotional capacities that will serve us well in letting go of our regrets.
The Feelings of Regret
Regret is not a simple feeling but a complex one. It is really a constellation of feelings, which is one reason regrets are so difficult to bear. In examining the feelings we have about our regrets, we will concentrate on six:
1. Anger
2. Fear
3. Guilt
4. Shame
5. Pain (including hurt, sadness, remorse, and grief)
6. Longing
There are other feelings that may surface, such as disgust or even joy at the unexpected kindnesses we experienced as our regret unfolded. But most of
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the other feelings that emerge, like rage or vengeance, are some variation of these six.
Anger and fear need no introduction. Most of us know these feelings well. Some of the other feelings may not be as clear to us. Guilt, for example, is the emotion we feel when we have done something that violates our value system. Our capacity for guilt motivates us to behave appropriately and to make amends when we do not. Guilt is a good thing when it is deserved and in proper proportion. We encounter problems with guilt when it is excessive or assumed but not deserved. Cho takes on guilt even when she has no real reason to feel guilty. Her family members and coworkers know of this susceptibility and use it regularly to manipulate her. Cho has many regrets stemming from her exaggerated sense of guilt.
Shame is often part of guilt, but it is useful to think of it as a different emotion. We feel guilt when we have done something wrong, such as lie or steal. Shame, on the other hand, comes not from the unworthiness of the action but from the unworthiness of ourselves. While guilt is about action, shame is about us and who we are as human beings. Shame is more troubling than guilt because it tells us that we are bad people, not good people doing bad things.
Deep shame is a component of many regrets. With such shame, we cannot separate what we have done from who we are, and we think of ourselves as fundamentally flawed, profoundly inferior, terribly unworthy. We mix shame with guilt in a toxic combination, even taking on guilt that is not rightly ours. “I could never be forgiven,” we say of our regrets. Or, “I don’t deserve to be happy.” Our regrets have come to define us, not in terms of what we did but in terms of who we are.
Each of us is a precious creature of our higher power. Each of us was created of equal value, and we retain that value in the eyes of God or whatever term we use for transcendent forces. Not one of us is worthless. We may earn the praise and admiration of our fellows or we may not, but material achievements do not affect our worth in the only realm that counts: the realm of the spirit. My favorite expression in this regard is, “God doesn’t make junk.” And, indeed, God doesn’t.
Pain is another critical emotion in letting go of regrets because it is part of every regret and because, ironically, it is one path to healing. Pain comes
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in many forms: physical, spiritual, and emotional. Emotional pain can be experienced as grief, sadness, loneliness, longing, or unhappiness. We feel it as agony or angst, as misery or anguish, as suffering or torment. Pain is something that most of us try hard to avoid. Yet pain brings us a priceless gift when we are willing to experience it. Ironically, it is the same gift that joy brings. It is the gift of healing.
Most of us have experienced the therapeutic benefits of a good cry. When we express our pain, we experience the physical and emotional relief that comes from that expression, and we begin to heal. When we refuse to express the pain, we remain trapped in that pain and cannot be healed. Until we consciously and willingly experience our pain, we cannot get past it. The only way to the other side of pain is through it. It cannot be circumvented or its effects avoided by refusing to feel it. Pain has to be confronted, felt, and walked through to be released.
Longing is often prevalent in our regrets. Longing is a persistent yearning for something, usually for something that cannot be attained. Many of us who regret deeply have a terrible longing for what might have been. It is captured in our recurring thoughts that begin, “If only . . .” The devastating loss we feel from broken promises, failed expectations, and lost hopes is an intense expression of pain and sadness. In an attempt to escape the excruciating pain, we long for what could have been, retreating to fantasies that begin, “If only. . . .”
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