Your ethical will: What do you regret?

 Welcome to Twelve essential questions to tell a life story. By joining me in twelve blogposts you will create what Rabbi Leder calls your ethical will.

By answering the questions your loved ones will get to know you deeper and you will understand yourself better. Let your memories bring meaning!

To join – read the blogposts, reflect on the questions and write down your own answers. You are very welcome to share them in the comments but you can of course also keep your answers in a document that is for your eyes only for now.

Welcome on an interesting journey!

What do you regret?

Before I give my answer, I will share one of the answers in the book For you when I am gone:

“I spent too much time comparing, judging, seeking approval, being hurt, wanting approval, looking outward for happiness. Now I want to forgive, to accept people for who and how they are. I can’t waste time trying to change them, I can only change my expectations of them. I don’t want to spend time anymore being hurt.”

This makes me think of Anouk’s wonderful song: I don’t wanna hurt, a song Jenny sings in my book Jenny, Jenny / Love, guilt, and motorcycles. You can find the song on Spotify

When I first saw this question I frowned. I don’t believe in regret. As you may know I am a Timefinder and regrets and worry should be avoided. They are major time- and energy wasters.

But I believed Steve Leder knew what he was talking about, so I gave it some more thought.  

What if I looked at the question about regret as something I wish I would have done differently, even if I don’t dwell on it anymore? When looking at it that way I found answers that indeed helped me understand myself better.

There are things I have done that didn’t work out as intended. I don’t regret these, not if they felt right in the moment. What I do regret is when I did something that felt downright wrong in the moment and I reasoned myself into thinking it was the right thing to do anyway.

This was when our first son was a baby. I had started working again and it was my husband’s turn to be on paternity leave. When I had put our son to sleep I had often put him in bed with me. My husband wanted to teach him to sleep in his own bed and at times would leave him there before he had fallen asleep, even if he would scream and cry. My husband had been told that was the way to do it. "If you fuss with them they will never stop. Let them scream. Eventually they will calm down and fall asleep."

Everytime my son would scream and my husband wouldn’t go into him I had a physical reaction. My heart, my instincts, everything inside of me shouted: Go to him. Pick him up. Comfort him. Instead I listened to my head. It’s my husband’s turn. I can’t tell him how to do it. He does it his way, I do it my way.

Sometimes I would walk out of the house since I just couldn’t stand hearing the crying without doing something about it.

This regret is not because something turned out badly. Our oldest son is just fine. What I regret was not listening to my heart.

My advice to my loved ones: Listen to your heart. It may lead you into thorny, difficult situations at times but you will never regret following that inner voice.

Now it’s your turn:

What do you regret?

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