I used to surround myself with the crowd that didn't feel as if they lived with regrets. You know the type: Pursue as much as possible, live as if there is no tomorrow. They're a fun bunch
I recently was assigned to write an essay series that revolved around the power of regrets and the validity of regret. It was tough, and I shed many tears hashing out each piece. It forced me to think and dig into myself. As hard as that is for anyone, I have a specific appreciation for it.
In digging, I came to a conclusion, though: We need regrets.
Not in the sense that they can feel good. They can't (otherwise it wouldn't be a regret). We still shouldn't like them or enjoy them.
What I mean, in short, is that regrets remind us not only that we have grown, but hat we have the ability to grow and learn. If we did the same things over the course of our entire lives, those lives would be short. I often think of Muhammad Ali, who quoted: "The man who views the world at 50 the same way he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of life."
Think about it like you do physical development, Do you do the things you did as a baby? Of course not, because you learned that many of those things are not socially appropriate for anyone but an actual baby. Now, you don't regret being a baby because that was out of your control and an obvious part of life, like many other facets of learning and education are. But the emphasis on development and change is similar enough to the original point to compare the two.
Regrets and learned lessons are a natural part of life. Yes, we can minimize the number of regrets we live with through consideration and proactive behavior. But it's clear that we can't control the world, and we cannot always choose to accept or reject responsibility for certain things.
If you're wondering, yes, this is totally negative self-reinforcement. But having regrets doesn't mean you have to beat yourself up or feel any worse than necessary to fix a mistake or prevent bad decisions in the future. It's all a spectrum that is a different length and journey for everyone, like your health or hobbies.
Stop kicking your own ass more than you have to. The best way to cope with poor decision making is to take responsibility for the mistake, analyze the best way to prevent it in the future, and live on. Most times, you'll need to think about it and live it multiple times before you can change. That's okay. Life is a long and convoluted journey, and you are here for a good and purposeful reason.