The Pain of Regret and What to Do about it

Last week, the world lost one of its best-known
comedians when Robin Williams ended his life after struggling with severe
depression. Williams was beyond famous; he was beloved. We lose famous people
all the time but I cannot recall seeing such an outpouring of gratitude,
sympathy, and a sense of loss on social media as I saw with his passing. I
wonder if he’d have known how big an impact he had on so many people, and how
deeply they felt connected to him, if it would have made a difference in his
last moments.
This post isn’t about Robin Williams but his
passing brings to light the reality about how much we experience the pain of
loss. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winner, and Amos Tversky studied this
phenomenon and concluded humans feel the pain of loss – an application of the
principle of scarcity – anywhere from 2.0-2.5 times more than the joy of
gaining the very same thing.
And here is a sad but true reality – we will
eventually lose everyone we love or we will be lost to those who love us. There
is no way to avoid the pain of loss known as death.
There is however a pain we can reduce or
remove – the pain of regret. Unfortunately all too often we have this pain heaped
on top of the pain of loss. You may have already experienced it or seen others
deal with it. The pain of regret comes out in statements like these:
I wish I would have…
I should have…
I could have…
I regret that I didn’t…
The list could go on and on. We are so pressed
by life, too often by our own choices, that we don’t give ourselves enough to
those who mean the most. In the midst of loss and the pain of regret people see
more clearly that loved ones and those who’ve impacted their lives in
meaningful ways are far more important than a new house, cleaning the car, spending
a few more hours in the office or checking the text that’s coming in at that
So what are we to do? As human beings we must
never forget we have the capacity to choose! We can choose to spend less time
at work, to not worry so much about the house, to realize washing the car can
wait, to know the world won’t end if we don’t check our text every few minutes.
I’m sure many people wish they’d have told
Robin Williams how much he meant to them, the joy his movies brought into their
lives, the laughter he gave them that brightened their day. But they can’t now.
The past is over, nothing more than a memory now, and the future is not
guaranteed. All you have is the moment you’re living in right now so what will
you do with it? Will you take the time to hug your spouse or kids a little
tighter, a little longer and tell them you love them? Will you reach out to
someone you’ve not talked to in a while say, “I’m thinking of you and
appreciate you?” Maybe you could thank your parents for all they invested in
you. I could go on and on but you get the point. Connect with someone in a
meaningful way because it will benefit both of you.
Life is short. I’m already 50 years old and 25
didn’t seem that long ago. God willing, I may look back at 75 and think, “Wow,
those last 25 years went by faster than I could have imagined!” I don’t want to
live with regret. Losing anyone I love will be hard enough but I want to look
back and know I spent my time on earth well. My hope is you can do the same.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer


Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.