More often than not, when people are asked about their regrets, they like to say they don't have any. There's something beautiful about being able to claim there's nothing about your life you would change. It makes you seem strong and happy.
But honestly, I find it hard to believe anyone can honestly fully claim that reality.
Sure, if I'm asked, "What's one thing you wish you could change about your past?" or "What your biggest regret?" I'll probably say I'd change nothing.
But that's only because I'm looking at everything that's been said and done from my perspective today. I'm thinking about what's good about my life, and I'm accepting the reality I took to get here. I know that altering that path, even in the most seemingly insignificant way, can change everything.
But the truth is, I would change lots of things. I would take back times when I hurt other people or times when I allowed them to hurt me. I would take back the snap decisions I made when I should've given them more time and consideration.
If I look at my mistakes or my rough points, I can identify places I went wrong. Given the chance, I'd change them in a heartbeat.
I'd change them because – whether we want to admit it or not – we all have things we aren't pleased with. They are the result of poor choices or missed opportunities. I'd venture to guess that if you didn't have to lose what you love, you'd probably change those missteps so you could "have it all."
So, yes. We have regrets. No one can make you admit it, but you know they exist.
However, we do have the right to view those regrets in any way we want. When we say we wouldn't change a thing, we're really considering our current circumstances.
We're content with the life we've built and the positive aspects around us. So, we don't feel the need to dwell on something that's behind us. We don't see the point in wishing we could change a part of our lives that lead us to that very moment.
We think this way because through all our blunders and all our errors, we have learned something very important: Little things have big consequences. We will accept our errors and not wish to change them because we gathered valuable lessons from them.
We now know the past is the past. We know that wishing for something else only causes us to miss out on what's good at the present moment. We know everyone screws up. But since change is no longer an option, we need to accept it and embrace it.
I don't think anyone is wrong to claim he or she lives without regrets. That's a personal view to take on a very complicated question.
Perhaps the truth about regrets is we can assume they exist. But we also assume they've been defeated. The point we need to reach shouldn't be to not have regrets, but to replace them with something better, like forgiveness, healing and growth.
Maybe the question we should really be asking is not "What would you change?" or "What's your biggest regret?" Maybe we should ask the following instead: "What have you done? What have you done to learn from your mistakes? What have you changed about your life to make sure you don't make the same errors over and over? What have you done to make yourself the best person can be, despite your messy past?
No, I don't live without any regrets. Neither do you.
But we do live with many triumphs and so much pride. I would dare say we live with enough pride to make our regrets and mistakes simply part of our story.