[ 3 min read ]
I think most people hate the idea that all regrets are pointless.
People don’t want regrets to be pointless. They want to be able to pin down the mistake or the flaw, or the deciding factor. This damn thing which screwed someone’s entire life or part of it.
If they agreed that all regrets are pointless (which they are — unfortunately for those people) they would lose this possibility. Life would become even more unbearable, I guess.
With regrets they can at least point a finger and say If only I hadn’t gone there that evening, or If only I had been a better father, or If only I hadn’t listened to my parents, or If only I had listened to my parents, or If only I had studied more in youth or If only I hadn’t married that man, or If only I had stayed with my family, or If only I hadn’t dropped out of school, or If only I had invested in that company, etc.
A regret means that they were smart enough to come up with the answer as to what went wrong. At least now they can feel smart. They know what went wrong and they believe that things would undoubtedly have been better were it not for this mistake, misfortune, bad choice, flaw. They like to believe that something which they could have controlled was responsible. That having this better (magnificent) life or avoiding certain problems was within their reach. Doable.
Believing that regrets make no sense at all would deprive them of this answer and they would also lose the ability to feel smart after the fact. They would have to accept the fact that finding the exact cause of their failure, suffering or misery doesn’t guarantee anything. Regardless of the choice they made in the past or their behavior or what had happened (even if they had chosen / done B instead of A, even if Y had happened instead of X) there can’t be no guarantee that their lives would actually have been better / everything would have been (still would be) just perfect. In their lunacy they fail to factor in alternative shit that could have had happened instead (other bad events, bad choices; fatal bike crash instead of cancer — why not?, coma after choking instead of being disabled after jumping into a pond— impossible?) and the fact that if one tiny thing (piece of this jigsaw puzzle) could have been different, everything else could have been different too and it’s totally possible that they wouldn’t even exist in the first place. A slight difference in the course of past events and they (or their parents) would never have been born.
And there is something in most people (some quality, we could call it a ‘flaw’) which forces them to look for answers to the questions What went wrong?, Where did I (we) make a mistake? They desperately want to pin it down because they naively believe that were it not for this mistake, misfortune, bad choice, flaw everything would have been (still would be) just perfect (in line with their preference).
This thing wouldn’t have gone wrong, but another one would. This mistake wouldn’t have happened, but another one would. Seems to me we’re overly optimistic. We only imagine this fixed reality. We don’t imagine hundreds of other things which could have gone wrong or hundreds of other mistakes which could have been made.