Insights: Have No Regrets

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Having regrets is not unusual, yet studies show how as we get older we can regret having regrets.

Having regrets means our expectations to be perfect and do everything right sets us up for more regrets.

We often spend too much time worrying about doing the right thing rather than doing what is authentic. Doing what is authentic has a greater picture, one we may not always understand yet includes doing what is right.

Sitting in our head trying to figure out what to do or how to be is limited.  We get into the “should” and societies messages, which is not always what is authentic.

You’re probably familiar with “it’s not the things you do in life that you regret, it’s the things you don’t do.’ This still holds true. However, new research shows that there is a more profound conclusion.

It is more important that you live out who you truly are, not who you think you should be or society tells you who you should be. What is key is truly being who you are, which s essential to not having regrets. Studies have shown that 76 percent of people said their largest regret is not fulfilling their ideal self.

Rules are important, but not to the point where we are not who we truly are.  I have been told by many clients that they got married because it was the thing to do rather than what was authentic for them. Or they went to college instead of traveling because this is what they were told to do.

Getting stuck in who we think we should be sends us down a rabbit hole that never ends and does not give us the ability to explore what is our true selves.

How do we know what the true self is? It can be pretty confusing what this true self looks like. It is intrinsic, a knowing what to do next in life. It does not have a loud voice or come in the form of looking outside yourself. It comes from following your values and morals, listening to what is true to whom you are and doing what is right for the greater good.

Inspirational writer Shannon Alder wrote “When you give yourself permission to communicate what matters to you in every situation you will have peace despite rejection or disapproval. Putting a voice to your soul helps you to let go of the negative energy of fear and regret.”

We all want to feel that feeling of peace and often look outside ourselves to experience it. This is an illusion.

One of the biggest issues I see is that people make excuses of why they do not live their authentic selves. However there truly are no excuses. We believe it is easier to not change, to stick with what others, society or even our own fears say and they can have loud voices. Honestly it is more difficult to give up who we truly are under the blanket of external messages.

For many years I struggled with fear as I made choices that others would not agree with. This cost me a lot, from my self-esteem to my sense of self. I questioned all my decisions, from going back to school to selling my home to hiking Mount Whitney. Yet looking back I have no regrets because I listened to what was authentic for me.

Remember that people have their own agendas. Not that they’re trying to be unsupportive, but their own fears or limitations are being projected out. I listen to people but use a filter so I can let go whatever does not feel true for myself.

It is amazing when you live congruently with who you are. There is a flow in life that just seems to make life feel better and happier. We live in more peace.

Author Mandy Hale wrote that “you’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching.  March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.”

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].


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