Anna, who shared her story was feeling regret, even years later, that she’d disobeyed her mother that day. Her disobedience nearly cost her friend her sight. She certainly meant no harm by entering the woods in her excitement of sharing her secret, yet the consequences of disobedience were huge.
We all have things we regret, even if it is years later. Sometimes the emotion is so deeply buried it takes an unassociated event to reawaken all those hidden feelings. There’s a story about a man who in his mid thirties is filled with remorse about the way he treated a peer in elementary school with horrible unkindness. He wasn’t at all sure what to do with his feelings since it happened several decades ago. Why would he have such feelings now? Even he admitted to not knowing the reason he was so consumed. Perhaps his life was suddenly changed by a chance meeting with a handicapped person showing him kindness. One can only guess.
Anna, in the above story, was disobedient. Does this disobedience change the way she will handle her own children? According to one source, experiencing regret has an affect on decision making.1 Regrets, in theory, should help us learn something. It can create empathy for someone in a similar situation and cause us to reach out to others. Regrets can also motivate us to think before we make a decision because we want to avoid having regrets.
This doesn’t always work, however! How often have you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock and then sleep through the next alarm? My daughter was notorious for this! She’d then have to rush to get dressed, rush through breakfast (or get something later), speed the whole way to work and hope no police officer saw her and feel frazzled the rest of the day. In theory doing this once should be enough incentive to get up when the alarm went off. Nope! It didn’t happen. This routine seemed more normal than when she did arise on time and leave without having to rush.
As I look back on my own life, there are certainly times I wish I’d done something different than what I’d done. I can’t change those mistakes, however. Apologizing now would make little difference and it’s entirely possible the only one who even remembers the misstep or blunder, is me. It would do no good to bring it up now. But I can be aware of my behaviors and think through my decision making so regrets are kept at a minimum. I must look forward with a good perspective and try to make someone else’s world good in whatever way I can.
What about you? Do you have regrets from your childhood? Was it from disobedience or just a curious disposition? How does that make you feel? Is there anything you can do about it now? Would you even want to?