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It was a lime green gobstopper, about the size of the circle you make when you place the tips of your thumb and middle finger together. It cost tuppence in old money and I had already spent my weekly sixpence.
I stole that green gobstopper when I was nine years old and it still haunts me.
You only regret the things you don't do.
At first this seems like a stupid thing to say. After all, I bet we've all done some idiotic things in the past which seemed like a good idea at the time and then had to deal with the resulting mess, whether physical or emotional.
I know I have acted out of anger, out of pain, out of exhaustion. I have done some things which, on balanced judgement, I would never have considered: things which were against my moral code; things which broke the law; things which were dangerous. Things that hurt other people.
And I've also done some good things which turned out really badly.
But I don't regret any of them.
I don't regret going on that horse-trekking adventure which resulted in my smashed ankle. I don't regret taking Tom into our lives (and no – sadly, that hasn't worked out; I'll write about it one day) and I don't regret taking the job which turned out to be a disaster. I don't even regret that lime green gobstopper, because it taught me something valuable.
I do regret not studying for my exams, I regret not going on medication for my bi-polar condition earlier, I regret not going to America with my friend Raz when he asked me.
But, if I twist it around, then – do I regret all the books I read, all the writing I did, while I could have been studying? Do I regret the years spent working through the highs and lows of mania and depression and the lessons learned from that? Do I regret prioritising the needs of my family over the desires of my friend?
When I change the negatives to positives my perception changes.
It's very easy to find ourselves in a vortex of negative thinking. When things go wrong, we start a vicious circle of self-blame and castigation. It doesn't help anyone.
We mostly do the best we can with the resources we have available. When we fail to do what we know or believe to be right, then it's because we do not have sufficient resources to bolster our resolution or to support us against anger, pain or physical weakness.
Sometimes we don't do things because we don't have the knowledge.
But we always did something else.
The trick is not to regret the something else.
A Moodscope member.