AS a counsellor Suzie Hayman is familiar with the wide range of woes that trouble the human mind. One of the most frequent and universal of these is regret.
“There’ll always be those things we say, like, ‘I wish I’d gone to Barbados on holiday’, or, ’I wish I’d bought that new handbag’,” says Hayman. “But the things that really hang over you are different. You don’t lie on your deathbed and say, ‘I wish I’d bought that handbag!’ But you do say, ’I wish I’d kept that friendship’; ‘I wish I’d spent more time with the people that matter to me’.”
Not spending enough time with loved ones and failing to keep meaningful ties alive certainly seem to top the list of common regrets. Letting opportunities slip through our fingers, and not looking after our health and finances — until it’s too late — are other frequent examples. Such regrets can affect us deeply, on many levels.
It’s for these reasons that Hayman decided to write a book, Live A Life Of No Regrets: The Proven Action Plan for Finding Fulfilment. It outlines what and why we regret, how these regrets manifest and impact us and, most crucially, what we can do about it.
“One of the things I talk about in the book is who shouts loudest. Often it’s the things that are immediate that you respond to,” she says. “That friend or relative rings you up and you respond. Your friends text or Facebook message you, and you respond.
“It’s quite difficult sometimes to sit back and ask yourself, ‘Hang on, what is it that I should actually be prioritising? What are the choices I have?’
“Sometimes we just go with the flow, rather than standing still and thinking: ’I can make a choice — and this is the choice I will make’.”
If we continually make choices that, deep down, aren’t making us happy, it breeds resentment and bitterness.
Though everybody has to follow their own heart and path, and pursuing the career you want is important (indeed, not following your dreams can be a common regret too), Hayman is convinced that connections, be they with friends, partners or relatives, are what ultimately mean most.
“What makes people happy is connections. If only we could recognise this and actually have more people saying, ’You know, I’m not going to prioritise that — I am going to prioritise my happiness and family. If only we could make that the cool way to be.”
The key thing is to recognise how we truly feel, so that we can avoid repeating the same patterns, and make better choices in the future.
“It’s about recognising that we all have regrets,” she says.
“It’s also about not feeling helpless and hopeless. There are things you can do to make it different.”
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