Regret is a bit of a prickly cactus of an emotion. That backward-looking and rather unpleasant feeling where you blame yourself and wish you could undo the past – not to be confused with remorse (which is the guilt and disquiet we experience when we have hurt others by our actions).
The hauntingly beautiful words of singer Edith Piaf, “Non, je ne regrette rien” – “I have no regrets”, always feels somehow full of bravura and romance. But is it possible to have no regrets? Regret’s troubling tentacles seem to inform so many of the conversations I have with clients.
Which of us hasn’t felt that tide of self-directed frustration when we realise it would have been far better to have consulted with a mechanic, or thought twice before inviting so many people over for Christmas, entered that relationship with a cooler head, or resisted capitulating to persuasion from a teenager?