On Regrets and What Ifs

by - 9:06 PM

Do you ever find yourself looking back on things in your life and wondering, “What if?” Do you ever find yourself questioning the decisions you have made and wondering if you did the right thing? Are there moments where you wonder how life would have been different if you had chosen to do things in another way?  



I used to have those thoughts often. I used to think back and regret things I have done and decisions I have made that brought me to the life path that I am on today. I would wonder how much better could my life have been if I had chosen things differently.

Overthinking those choices and regrets was something that I used to do regularly, and it put me in a bad place mentally. I was often thinking of how things might have been instead of how things could still be. I was always looking back and thinking of a life or a future that does not exist instead of what lies in front of me. I was living more in the past instead of looking at the possibilities of the future.

Now that I am older and (hopefully) more mature, I tend to see things differently. Yes, I look back and I still have regrets, but I do not dwell on them. If there was a way for me to make up for the mistakes or bad decisions of my past, if there was a way for me to do better and be better, I decided to do it. But if not, I have chosen to have the mindset that it was best not to keep replaying those mistakes and thoughts over and over in my head. If there is nothing more than can be done, it is (as they say) what it is. Acknowledge the mistake and move on. Nothing will change if I keep thinking and worrying about it. Dwelling on it won’t solve anything. The best thing is to just move forward and hope that I don’t make the same mistakes again. Learn from that lesson and go on with my life. 

Looking back at how things might have been different had I chosen to do things another way with my life negates the fact that there are also a lot of good things that came from the life that I chose to have. I realized that looking back with regret made me seem ungrateful for the things that I did have and will continue to have in my life. I don’t want to jinx whatever good I will still enjoy in the future by regretting my past decisions. To relive them over and over in my mind would be a waste of time when I can focus on making my future better instead. 

The thing with regrets, with the “what ifs,” and with wondering if you have made the right decisions in life for me is that I don’t think of it necessarily to be a bad thing. It’s not bad to regret or question yourself. It’s not bad to wonder. For me, questioning yourself from time to time is healthy. The fact that you do that means you are still striving to do and make things better. As long as you are not dwelling on the negative aspect of it all, I think it is a good thing. 

There’s a saying that once you’ve “made your bed” you have to lay in it. I don’t agree with that. Not completely, anyway. Once you’ve made a decision that led to certain life situations that may or may not be what you want, yes, you have to live with the consequences of it. But still, I think that “laying in it” means simply accepting your fate blindly. Like swimming in deep waters in a storm and simply allowing yourself to drown even when you see a boat in the distance. We may not be able to take back the decisions we made, but I believe that just sitting there and taking the consequences is not our only option. It may not always be easy, but I would like to think that there will be other opportunities and other life decisions that lie in the future that can turn things around for us if we keep ourselves open to those possibilities.

Looking back and questioning ourselves can be good if it helps us to make better decisions for our future. If it makes us realize that this is not the path we wanted, at least it helps us to course-correct and try to make things right (or at the very least, better). 

What’s the reason for all these thoughts? I have worked hard for years and put my heart into something that hasn’t worked out the way that I thought it would. I feel regret for the time I dedicated to this, and I wonder how things would have been if I had not made this part of my life plan. At the same time, however, I know that the best thing to do with the situation is not to dwell on the what-ifs of it all but on how I can change my situation for the better. To come up with a different life or path from this point on. If I can still change things, why not do it right?

The regret is there, I am not going to lie, but I also know that the time that passed was not a complete waste of my life. I can’t say that I fully regret everything. I have learned and grown a lot personally and professionally. I have met a lot of people and traveled to places I never would have been to and made friends along the way. Most importantly, I know that despite how things have worked out (or not), I know that I have done my best with the situation. I think that as long as I know that I did what I could not just for my benefit but others as well, I really should not dwell on these regrets. I can’t take back the time that I lost, but I can choose to make what time I have in my life that remains better…and I want to do that.

Things may not be going my way today, but I choose to believe that this setback is here to divert my path to where I am truly meant to be. I just have to be open to the possibilities and be willing to take the leap of faith to get there.

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