Two Voices Of Regret, And One Key To Overcome Them

How To Overcome Regret

 

“Regrets, I’ve had a few…”

This is a line in that famous Frank Sinatra song, the one that’s killed quite a few karaoke fiends in the Philippines, “My Way.” But I’m not here to poke fun at its cultural/inside joke implications. I’m here to tell a story of two voices from three different people, but all of them are singing one song: A song of regret.

Voice #1: Let Me Live Through You

In the Philippines, it’s all too common for parents to make their kids pursue the dreams they’ve never had the luxury to chase. Thus, you can hear of anecdotes of children falling ill, even to the point of hospitalization, because their parents wanted them to pursue the vocation they’ve wanted for themselves. It’s a rather unhealthy way to live, right? Why don’t you just pursue that degree you’ve always wanted, for yourself? When your kids have grown and your home is quieter, and you have free time and even the savings that you didn’t have before because you’re no longer sending anyone to school, go ahead and pursue that long-held dream of yours. You owe it to yourself. Don’t let your age, or the thought of what people will think hold you back.

In this respect, I admire my paternal grandmother; she pursued a degree in Practical Nursing around the age of 60, because it’s what she always wanted for herself, but her family held her back. Like her, you should pursue your dreams, too. Don’t let anyone else achieve your dreams on your behalf.

This voice belongs to a family member of mine, who kept recommending that people around him should go get a Law degree. Sometimes I wish he just went ahead and gotten that degree for himself. I don’t think it’s too late, even if he’s already in his mid-50’s.

***

Voice #2: “If Only…”

There are two voices that I remember whenever I think about this story. One is a friend who grew up adopted by relatives, and the other is my boyfriend’s youngest daughter.

My friend has stated time and again, that she wishes she just grew up with her biological fam. She believes that her adoptive family had not seen her potential clearly enough. And she feels like she was raised just to cure her adoptive mother’s loneliness. And she feels that, if only she grew up with her biological mother, no matter how tough life would have gotten, she would still strive to make the best out of it, simply because she would have no choice. She would have no choice because she would then be raised by her biological fam, and there would be no what-ifs. She regrets the fact that while she has a good job and is earning well in a multi-national company, she could have been a doctor, and she wouldn’t have gone through the workplace pain that she had. In short, she believes that if only her parents saw and honed her potential, she would have had a better career, a better adult life.

My boyfriend’s youngest daughter, on the other hand, is looking for the perfect mother. She doesn’t know what that ideal mom would be like. While she seeks out pretty mothers who are “hip,” “cool,” who dress well and look young, she sometimes wishes that her aunt, the wife of her dad’s brother, were still alive. Her aunt was actually verbally, emotionally and physically abusive. But sometimes, she regrets her aunt’s death, because she realizes that she needs discipline. She thinks that, had her aunt not died, she wouldn’t have gotten rebellious and belligerent because her aunt was pretty strict. And sometimes, she wonders if life would have been better, if her parents did not separate. Even if, in reality, there were very heavy reasons why her parents separated, and even if her mother wasn’t exactly the poster gal for a morally upright life.

For these two vignettes, I see one theme: These gals, while I love them to bits, blame their current lives on the fact that a complete, perfect, if not at least “normal,” family life eluded them. The voices in their heads tell them that their lives aren’t good enough, simply because their parentage wasn’t ideal.

While I would never know what it would be like to be adopted, or to be the child of a broken family (kudos to my parents for staying together all this time, in spite of the hell we’d been through at some points), I still do not agree with the regrets that these two ladies have. I do not agree that if their past were to be changed, that they’d have a better future. I do not agree that if they only had either their biological families to grow up with, or a complete family to grow up with, that their lives would be better.

Instead, I will say, that one thing that they should do, is to look at the future and know that they are in complete control of how it would be and should be shaped.

I will recommend that both should record their daily whines and listen to themselves and realize that at some point, they should STOP regretting what they cannot change.

Honestly, I had a very rough teens. At one point, I also tried to look for the perfect mother-figure because I thought my mom was too dense and too out-of-touch with her emotional side. That she wasn’t encouraging enough, or careful enough with her words.

But lately, I’ve realized that her tough love and her strict demeanor have made me who I am. These two factors have caused me to understand that I should not feel entitled to provision from them, that I should not think that they should provide me with all that I need, and that there are times when I have to learn to fend for myself. That if they couldn’t provide for something, I should think creatively, and look for means for me to obtain what I wanted.

As an adult, I have learned to pay for all my bills myself. And even if I’m an only child, I can only expect my mom to give me what she WANTS to give, VOLUNTARILY. I’m 30; I am no longer entitled to things like birthday gifts.

Of course, my friend pays for all her bills herself. She makes decisions and makes her way through life on her own. It’s just that, she felt that her adoptive parents should have cultivated her potential better, provided for her desire to learn better, appreciated and encouraged her to achieve more. She feels like she would have had a better career today, had her adoptive parents honed her potential even better.

But I still say she should stop looking back.

She laments that she realizes that her memory may well be photographic, and that her adoptive mother should have encouraged her to use it better.

She laments that her mother would have a cow whenever she asked for books. *MY* mother would have a cow whenever I asked for books, too. But I found ways to grow my collection, then I promptly gave them away, eventually.

As for her photographic memory, since she now recognizes that she has one, then why shouldn’t she milk it for what it’s worth? Use it at work, go take a Master’s Degree. Go get a Ph.D. Join the Toastmasters. Apply for MENSA. Things like those. Since she recognizes those gems in herself, she should be her best friend, be her best parent, and cultivate and love herself and make herself shine! 🙂

That’s the only way she could harness her God-given gifts. Stop looking for the ideal past and just craft the brightest future! 🙂

As for my boyfriend’s youngest, she is young. She still has a chance to reform, to rise up from her teenage rebellion and craft a better life for herself. It’s up to my boyfriend to define that, because I decided to take a step back and stop meddling. I realized that a step-parent figure is just too complicated an archetype, so it may not work, even if I may have ideas on how to help her, since I’m a Psych grad.

I find it funny that her dad, my boyfriend, also survived a broken fam. But he doesn’t make excuses about his choices and blame everything on the past. Rather, he just walks on, taking things choice by choice, taking life one day at a time.

***

With this voice from the two women I hold dear, the regrets singing “If only,” I can only recommend one thing: Just stop. Stuff it and just take steps to create a better future. Your parentage, your past, they do not hold the key to your future. Only your present, your choices, and YOU; ultimately, only YOU are in control of how your future will be shaped.

It helps if you seek the Lord’s wisdom. What better way to define yourself, but by your Creator’s “manual,” right? And what better way to steer your future, than to go back to the blueprint of how you were created?

But whether you believe in God or not, the solution to “If only” regrets is simple: Shut up and just move forward. Shut up and just walk on.

***

I am a firm believer that most of us don’t live the lives we dream of either because we don’t want to put in the work that we need to, in order to reach our goals, OR, we let our past define us and hold us back.

Like Robert would say, stop it with the excuses already, and just make decisions towards the life you want to live. Seriously, it would make you a happier person.

…And honestly? If you always whine to a certain friend in your life, you’ll do that friend a favor and you’ll be able to tell better stories, happier stories.

So, instead of regrets, try taking control and just make that choice that you need to make. You don’t have to live through other people, and you don’t have to keep looking back on your past, like it were some specter chasing you.

Remember, the only person who can kill your dream is you.

You can either be your best friend, or your worst enemy. And even on this point, YOU have that choice to make.

And, you probably guessed it by now: The key to overcoming the voices of regret, is to make the choice to live a life that you dream of, to live a live that you’re happy with, by making good choices, one choice at a time.

( And I just have to reiterate, one good choice is to shut up with the mantras of the past. :-p )

Good vibes all around. 🙂 It’s Friday! Rejoice and have a happy weekend, Live Wealthier friends! 🙂

About Girl On A Live Wealthier Journey

I spend too much for comfort. That's why I love writing about budgets: because at one point, getting it right will open doors in my Live Wealthier journey!

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