Most of what people experience and from which they draw their conclusions come down to two primary areas: sensation and reflection. Sensation relates mostly to initial reaction in the physical such as if something is cold or hot, soft or hard, yellow or blue and so on. If we go by that alone we may get a very limited view of what is happening though it may be superficially correct. Reflection relates to perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing and willing. Reflection isn’t necessarily about what is happening around us; it is reflection on the operation of our own minds. It is knowing why we think what we do (metacognition), and in that knowing, becoming better at seeing things more clearly and then responding appropriately.
If the association between sensation and reflection is understood a lot of potential regret can be avoided. Here are a few suggestions on how to avoid debilitating regret.
Remember (Ps. 105:5)
If we consider the fact that our brain cells connect, reinforcing memory, we might be more selective about that upon which we reflect. Impress your memory with what it took to get you to this place of opportunity. Don’t forget the people that sacrificed to give you your opportunities. Make sure you let them know that you will never forget what they have done for you.
Express (Prov. 25:28)
Reflection is all about gaining control over the way that you think and subsequently how you respond to various circumstances. Self-control may be one of the biggest factors in minimizing regrets. No one could think of any beneficial thing that resulted from losing control. Reflection causes us to be much more aware of what we say and how we react to others (Proverbs 15:23).
Grasp (I Cor. 7:31)
Live each moment as best you can. Grasp the concept of living well now and failures will fade; the future will become clearer. Balance on how to handle a situation might best be described as moderation. Most people walk through life living in one extreme or the other and that contains many regrets. When we consider that what we have has only been loaned to us, we handle it quite differently. Presumption and regret always go together.
Recover (Ps. 39:13)
Everyone fails; not everyone recovers. Keep a grip on the situation and you will recover. Recovery from a difficult situation is all a part of getting control of it (Proverbs 24:16). A person that is out of control of his or her emotions means their thoughts have little chance of recovery. No matter how far things have gone in the wrong direction we must consider that it is never too late to recover.
Execute (I Chron. 12:32)
Be a resolver; someone that makes things better; that seeks to bring peace into every situation. The last thing we should want to do is make a bad situation worse. When we choose to do little or nothing to make things better, we will have plenty to regret.
Treasure (Matt. 6:21)
Find treasure in the here and now. The phrase “hidden treasure” is appealing in a superficial way. Real treasure, the kind that matters most, isn’t hidden at all. It is obvious and within the grasp of anyone. The real treasure may be in seeing people and things for their real value.
Seek (Psalm 61:2)
Find balance between the ideal and real, but always seek the higher way in everything. Living low contains many regrets. Living low means living as a cynic and skeptic where people are concerned. When we seek something better, it isn’t just for ourselves; it is equally, perhaps even surpassingly, seeking something better for those around us.
Regret can be paralyzing. It should teach us, among many things, that we do not want to go that way again. When we come to that conclusion, an answer comes and then we see a way out of the quicksand of regret. Reach the heights by moving away from regret and toward hope (the antonym of regret).
Dr. M. Hildon Guy is the President of the University of Christian Studies and Seminary in Eagle River, Alaska and is a Board Member of Love INC of Eagle River. (www.universityofcss.org)