Life Potential and Regret

Everything in life is designed to achieve its potential with the resources that are available and the support that is provided.

Human beings, in addition, have the ability to make choices based on their learning and their desires.

But how do you discover your potential and how does that relate to the two sentences that started this article?

The discovery process is not simple and not easy at all, as we shall report on Qualogee.

There are many answers and each one is unique for the person whose potential is at stake in his or her life, but there are also general patterns that each one of us would be wise to know.

5 Top Regrets of the Dying

One questioning path we can follow is to examine our regrets, and in particular talk with those those who know that they are coming to the end of their lives.


This is what Bonnie Ware did as she took care of dying patients in a hospital for eight years and she wrote a book about it, entitled, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.”  [Read reviews and comments here.]

You don’t have to read the book to find out what the regrets are. They are all over the Web, and to save you time, I’ll list them here:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

As of this moment, the Google search engine returns 66,400 results for the specifi phrase “top five regrets of the dying”.

So you can easily find lists, references and summaries about these five regrets, and then are other lists as well.

What you will not find so easily, and I do not plan to look, is in depth discussions and analyses about regrets and what that might mean for your life when it comes to doing something with the knowledge that you have gained. Of course, Bonnie Ware’s book does go into some detail, but not the kind of detail that focuses on- and achieves results. [I am not being critical of the book. It takes more than one book; it takes a system to prevent core regrets, and that was not Bonnie’s purpose.]


The Purpose of Regret and Guilt

Regret, and its related emotion, guilt, have a use, I believe. They exist “naturally” (and also culturally) because they are supposed to help you with learning, which opens up a whole other range of issues and questions.

The basic problems with the natural emotions of regret and guilt, and for that matter with all emotions, is that they are physically primitive. By themselve, they don’t teach that much, other than to survive.

As a matter of fact, it appears to me that in general we don’t know much about the science of regret and guilt. I have done some checking, and I may be wrong, but it just doesn’t seem that there has been much research in this area. There has been a lot of psychoanalytic theorizing but that is not the same as scientific research.

Even so, there is a book that came out in late 2014 by Peter Breggin, “Guilt, Shame, and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions” that looks interesting, but I haven’t read it yet.  [It has been well reviewed.]

Notice that Dr. Breggin refers to guilt as a negative emotion.

I don’t see it that way at all. For me guilt, improperly used, can have negative consequences. Emotions can lead to negative or positive results.  It depends on how you/we label them and what we do with them.

Pleaste Note, the comment I just made is quite important. I look at labels, words, emotions and the body as tools that can help us move toward our potential. it is when we create poor tools, or use good tools improperly, that the results can be negative.


Regret and Potential

This article is already becoming lengthy, by web speed and attention deficit standards, and I haven’t even been specific about any regret and how it relates to potential.

So what I shall do is just make some key point to wrap up this article and leave deeper conversation to later writings.

It so happens, if you haven’t discerned it yet, that I have been around for more than a few years and have incurred some big regrets, as well as some smaller ones that were emotionally big. Several of these regrets, I shall share, but certainly not all of them (not that you would want me to, I think, maybe.)

It also happens that I have been thinking about the idea of potential at what it means for a more than a few decades.

Let me state this emphatically, “The word, the concept and the tool of ‘potential” is the most powerful and important for every aspect of your life.” To me, this is exactly what the top regret of those who are dying means, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.”

“Potential” is the most important word that you/we and our cultures have to empower in any way we can.

Because to “be true to your self” is what every human being wants more than anything else.

But what does it mean to be true to your self, and how can you be true to your self if you do not know your full potential, or if you know it, do not take action to move toward it?

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