I am suspicious of people who declare they have no regrets. I don't believe them. Or I think they have no self-awareness at all. It sounds smug to me. I have regrets all the time. I regret having bacon for breakfast this morning. Even when I was eating the third slice I was pretty sure I could have made a better choice. I still ate it though.
According to Wikipedia, "Regret is a negative conscious and emotional reaction to one's personal decision-making, a choice resulting in action or inaction. Regret is related to perceived opportunity. Its intensity varies over time after the decision, in regard to action versus action, and in regard to self-control at a particular age. The self-recrimination which comes with regret is thought to spur corrective action and adaptation."
Regrets are normal. They can even be productive if they result in you making better choices in the future. I may make a decision to eat less bacon. But sometimes regret can be destructive. Especially when it is tied into shame. When you feel like a loser because of past choices. Or you feel inadequate or worthless. Or you feel like you wasted a lot of time chasing something that you now see as toxic and destructive.
I've felt like that about a lot of stuff I used to believe. I mention on next week's podcast that I've played a game with friends called, "Shit we used to believe." We laugh about some of the absurd stuff that we bought into along with our membership in the evangelical church community. We talked about the beliefs that we needed to protect our kids from Pokemon and Sailor Moon, the dangers of going out for Halloween, that there is a 'rapture', tattoos are sinful, yoga is opening your mind up to the occult, or secular music is evil. We lived in a world full of taboos.
The truth is none of us really believed it. But we all played along or at least kept our books, tattoos, and records hidden. But there are other beliefs that were more damaging and that I deeply regret. I regret being part of a system that has a history of oppressing women, being racist and condemning of the LBGTQ community. Whether or not I agreed with these beliefs doesn't matter at the end of the day. What matters is that I never spoke up. Well, I did a few times but I was a people pleaser with a thin skin and so mostly I kept my mouth shut. Thankfully, I've seen the light, developed a thicker skin and care what very few people think. Thank you menopause!
Yes, you wll have regrets. but they may be the very thing that spurs you to change. They may be the catalyst for your spiritual crisis. They can be the place you begin a conversation with people you have hurt. I have talked to both my kids about my regrets about some of the restrictions we put on them because we were pressured by our faith community to conform to a certain standard. I take full responsibility for making the choice to conform.
You might be reading this and thinking your community is different. It's possible but conformity and group think exist everywhere. And the longer you have been part of a community the more difficult it is to see it. When I stopped going to church regularly I saw things so differently when I did go.
I'm not suggesting you don't go to church - I am saying every community has operating values and they aren't always the same ones that are preached. And there will be pressue to conform. Don't stop questioning and don't lose your own voice. And if you are tired of the hypocrisy of playing nice then welcome your spiritual crisis and get ready to reclaim a healthy and vibrant faith. It will take a little courage but you won't regret it.
Sign up for my blog and I'll send you a worksheet for dealing with regrets.