People say don’t regret anything. But I don’t agree.
When i was in college, I had this argument with a close friend over attending lectures that afternoon. What started as some harmless discussion over choosing to bunk or attend college turned ugly and we exchanged stuff which we shouldn’t have. To this day we have not spoken to each other.
Few years ago, i was driving my car back home from office around midnight, on the highway there was this car which was trying to overtake me, i simply did not allow him to. We had this high speed chase almost for 10 mins. It was terrible I realized that we could have almost collided or hit other vehicles. When I reached home I wondered why I did such a stupid thing…
I had this sales manager who constantly used to criticize our brand campaigns claiming it yielded no results in his state. One day he marked a mail to all my bosses stating my failure to do something meaningful and i was so angry that i ripped him apart in my reply literally abusing him in the process. Later I felt I might have gone overboard with my reply.
When i remember these incidents there is one common feeling. That of Regret.
I regretted the decision i took at that very point of time. Whether it was to pursue the argument with my friend to a point of no return or chasing the car which I could have easily ignored. And sending that email which i could have been more careful about.
If i did have a chance to undo my actions i would definitely have behaved differently. But then why did I do it in the first place. After all it was the same me taking that decision. Or was it?
And i learnt over the years that most of the time it is my emotions at that very point of time that drives me to commit a mistake. I become a different person at that point of time. It was not me, it was my Alter Ego acting. The high imbalance of negative emotions overpowered me and drove me to do something which i would otherwise have not done.
Also this realization of regret happens just minutes after I have committed the same. But sometimes it’s just too late by then. And then some of it can turn into a lifetime of regret.
I strongly feel if we can conquer this one aspect of our lives we can avoid many such regretful moments and save our relationships and our lives.
I have always tried to seek an answer to this problem, if at all there is one.
How can i conduct myself at such moments so that i do not regret later? I came across a lot of spiritual answers which sounded good but really could not put it in actual practice. ‘Letting Go’, ‘Keep Calm’ ‘Drink Water’ and many such solutions didn’t really work for me. Yes, Letting Go is very powerful concept but i was unable to let go in the true sense as the emotions at that point were too overpowering.
But there is something that did work. And that is why i have written this post. Some of you may have experienced and put it in practice already. But I strongly believe that in practical sense this works 100%. Also in some way it is a subset ‘Letting go’ which can really be put in practice easily. The trick is you don’t really ‘Let Go’ as thats humanly not possible but you ‘POSTPONE’.
POSTPONE your actions by just a few seconds, minutes.
So when i am really angry at this colleague of mine over the mail he sent, i have this immediate urge to reply and abuse him. Till i don’t reply in a fitting manner i am not calm. My legs shake literally as my emotional imbalance – ‘Alter Ego’ takes over. It’s really difficult to ‘Let Go’ of this incident. But what i try to do is i POSTPONE’
I type my reply to vent out my anger at that point but don’t click on the send button, I tell my Alter Ego ok sure this is really bad and i need to send now but can i please do it tomorrow morning. Once I am able to convince myself, i get involved in something else for the next few minutes. And believe me if i have successfully been able to postpone my action for later, when I am back to check my mail and click on the send button I realize that what I had written was not suitable after all It was harsh and it could be more professional. And I then edit my content and send. Postponement of hitting the send button has allowed me to avoid a potentially regretful situation in my life. It worked.
If only i had postponed my argument with my friend, or given up on my chase convincing myself that i will see him later, things could have been different.
So what i learnt is these three things
1) Most events we regret about is due to decision made when there is extreme emotional imbalance in our mind.
2) POSTPONING decisions during time of such extreme emotional imbalance saves one from potential blunders.
3) After Postponing the decision for some time, when you get back, you actually end up changing/modifying your decision to a more logical conclusion as it’s your true self which is now taking the call.
I must admit even though this works, I for one have not been able to POSTPONE decisions always. Sometime my alter ego overpowers me. And i still commit mistakes which i feel terrible about later. It still happens every day. And I try my best to work this out. But i strongly feel if we can completely embed this habit of Postponement in our life we have found a sustainable solution to this problem.
Cause words expressed either verbally or written can be forgiven but never forgotten and that has a potential to affect our lives. This Postponement of decision can therefore act as a relationship and live saver.
P.S Some of you may be wondering the logic of the images tagged with this post and the relevance. Since by now you are aware that by postponing decisions one can avoid potential mistakes. A clock here with two timelines represents how the postponement of our decisions by a few hours ( symbolic) can potentially save many relationships. Hence the clocks with different timelines