Self-compassion and regret

“I have learned from wiktionary that regret is just intense grief”

I’ve had more than one run in with the painful emotion of regret this week.

  • I said some unkind words of judgment that I wanted to take back shortly after they came off my tongue.
  • I unnecessarily criticized a very valid approach in a conversation with a colleague because I had another strategy.
  • I remained silent when I should have spoken up as my husband and I were considering a sales pitch…. We bought the product and both later regretted that decision.

In all three instances, I felt like a fool.

And, truth be told, I was foolish. I regretted what I had done. But that’s not really new news.

What has been new this week is how I have met my own foolishness… with self-compassion instead of shame, shame, and more shame.

I have learned from the woman at the well to tell the whole truth.

            Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

It was hard to face that I could be so judgmental and unkind.
It was hard to face my own arrogance and the insecurity evidenced by my critique.
It was hard to say to my husband that I regretted our purchase.

I have learned from the woman caught in adultery  that I am not alone in my foolishness.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

I have learned from wiktionary that regret is just intense grief.

I have learned from Mary of Bethany to let myself feel the pain of loss (even if it’s a loss I’ve created) and connect with Jesus as I do.

 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

I have learned that self-compassion opens a door for learning that shame keep tightly closed.

So, because I chose self-compassion instead of shame this week, I have also learned:

  • That I was unkind because I feel badly about some of the choices I made years ago (alas, more griefwork!)
  • That I am feeling some professional insecurity, still struggling to simply accept what I have to offer that may differ from others.
  • That I am very vulnerable right now due to my ongoing pain and the medications I take to mitigate it.

Not a bad wisdom harvest for a week that could have been characterized only by regret…

When have you felt regret?  Have you gone to shame or self-compassion? What have you learned?

  • http://www.bipolarlessons.com Mary

    Your desciption of regret as an expression of grief makes a lot of sense. And like any loss there is a time to let go. Bad choices does not make a bad person.

    I’ve written an article about dealing with guilt and shame that is similiar to your point of view.

    http://www.bipolarlessons.com/2012/08/01/the-fallacy-of-being-a-good-person-2/

  • Kate

    This is so timely…I’ve been face to face with decisions from my distant past this week that have been dripping with shame and regret for so many years. I took a bold step and shared many details with a trusted, godly friend last weekend. After I shared I felt quite vulnerable and struggled with the same old feelings of shame. Since this was an out-of-town guest, I couldn’t just have coffee with her and work through it together. So, I used my imagination and spoke to myself as if she were the one who had shared with me. Through this, I was able to extend myself more grace and compassion and forgiveness than ever before. The hold these decisions have had on me is broken! For the first time in nearly 18 years I feel free. Thanks be to God!

  • http://melindaschmidt.com Melinda

    Thank you for modeling not just a productuve process for facing regret, but one that ties a soft pillow to our behinds as we land (often stunned!) in the puddle of inevitable regrets.


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