The Most Important Lesson Regret Has Taught Me

I was a senior in college as I sat in the conference room with five psychology professors. I was there to receive a special thank you for providing music at a conference the department had just hosted.

I was handed a half-dozen roses and the different professors thanked me, told me how much my piano playing had added to the event, and complimented my abilities as a psychology student.

I remember as I held the roses and the professors spoke, I wanted to shrink into my seat. I felt so self-conscious!

The longer they spoke, the lower I wanted to sink. The nicer they were, the more I wanted to disappear. I muttered the obligatory thank you’s as they spoke.

When they were done, one of them tried to engage me in conversation. I had already thanked them for the roses and their kind words, so when it came time to respond to the professor's effort at conversation, all I could say was ... wait for it, wait for it... "Can I go now?"

Can I go now?! I said that?! Yes, I said that. As I said it, I already regretted it. They, somewhat awkwardly, said, "Of course."

Well, clearly, I proved I didn't need to study psychology or counseling, I needed psychological counseling!

I was so self-conscious that I didn't handle that setting with maturity. And, today, at age 51, I still remember it and regret it.

The bummer about regret is that it is based on something in the past and you can't change the past. We all have a heap of "wish I had's" and "I shouldn't haves!"

We often look back in the rear-view mirror of our lives and see that land-fill of "coulda," "shoulda," and "I wish it would just go away." Or, at least we wish we could just get far enough away from our regrets that we can’t see them in our mind's eye anymore.

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