Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No More Sorry, No Regret

It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
~ Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Did I confuse you with these introductory lyrics? Were you expecting, maybe, Billy Joel? Billy has the day off today. Don’t be too disappointed, though. As you can see, his tour-mate, Sir Elton John, has kindly agreed to partner with me in Billy’s stead to help me capture the essence of today’s post.

You see, while this week we’re talking about making No Apologies – and Pam gave us an exhaustive list of things we for which we should never apologize – I have to admit I’m a big fan of the Sorry. I’m a huge proponent of apologies when someone has done something wrong. I’ve trained countless customer service people to start with “I’m sorry” when dealing with an irate customer, the kind of sorry that simply means no matter what caused you grief, I’m just sorry that you are experiencing frustration. Heck, I’m the Mom of two little people! “Tell him (her?) you’re sorry!” is part of my hourly existence!

Apologizing for who we are or for the way we engage with the world, of course, is an error so many of us struggle with. We’re often made to feel as if we should apologize when in fact we should be our own strongest advocates, when we should be shouting our uniqueness to the hills! (Not sure why the hills would care, but it sounds good, right?)

One might assume we regret these Halloween costumes from 2001. One would be wrong. But here's the kicker... WHAT WERE WE??? (I challenge you to guess...)

But did you know that Sorry has a twin? Oh yes, an insidious, evil twin that lurks in Sorry’s shadow: her name is Regret. Sorry truly is one of the hardest words to say, but Regret follows in Sorry’s path with slithery grace and ease. In fact, Regret can find her way into your heart even when Sorry hasn’t managed to claw her way out of your mouth.

Think about it for a minute. Regret is kind of like an inward-turned Sorry. If you have wronged another person, for instance, whether or not you have apologized you likely feel Regret. Close your eyes and imagine that feeling. That Regret. In essence, Regret happens when the part of you that decided to do the Regretful deed apologizes to your conscience. Over and over. And over.  It’s an in-your-gut ache, isn’t it?

Here’s the key with Regret: almost 100% of the time, Regret doesn’t accomplish anything. Regret doesn’t turn the clock back. Regret doesn’t right the wrong. Regret just aches and festers.

I decided about 15 years ago that I was going to do away with Regret in my life. I was banishing her for good. It wasn’t easy. But there are two tenets I follow:

  •        Don’t do anything I will Regret. (I hear you LOLing. I will not SMH but rather will continue…) Seriously, this one decision has helped me make very deliberate decisions and to ensure I have the confidence to stick by them. Do I take longer to actually make a decision than I used to? Not really. I’m one of those annoying people who makes a decision quickly – way too quickly for my husband’s liking in so many cases. Poor guy. But by making the conscious decision to avoid Regret, I’ve committed myself to make decisions and take actions that will not cause me to Regret.

  •        Don’t allow Regret entrĂ©e into my heart. When something happens that would typically be Regret-Full, and when I start to feel a bit Regret-Esque, I try to remind myself that feeling Regret will do nothing but make me feel terrible. Which will lead to an irresistible desire to eat an entire pan of brownies while watching an endless loop of “Steel Magnolias.” At that point, I have two choices: become heartless (not an option) or take action. You’d be amazed at how quickly Regret flees when you take action. Do you Regret doing something negative to another person? Go make it better. Do you Regret something you did long ago, too long ago for a simply make-good? Do something today to improve the life (or even just the day!) of someone else. Do you Regret something huge like having so much when so many have so little… well, that’s an easy one, but I’ll let you figure it out.

    The key here is to Stop Regret. No More Inward, Useless Sorrys. Be. Do. Act.

    The almost-not-quite-irony of this post is that last week I wrote a post on my personal blog reminding people that there is no statute of limitations for I’m Sorry. But let’s be clear: that kind of Sorry is an outward Sorry, not a Regret. There is a difference.

    Just let me out of here
    Before that sentimental music starts
    And your regrets
    Fall like empty lines
    Like the lies we write on Valentines

    No Valentine
    ~ Elton John & Bernie Taupin

    By the way, if Sir Elton John and Billy Joel ever do agree to tour again, go see them. Fabulous concert. You won’t Regret it.

    P.S. Tell me… am I the only one who saw Pam’s photo in yesterday’s post and, before learning that she was in a porthole, wondered where she found such a gigantic washing machine?


    Pam Asberry said...

    Well done, Megan. I suppose there are times, as in the customer service scenarios you described, when a meaningless "I'm sorry" is appropriate. In that context, it seems more like part of a script, words with no feeling behind them. And while I am done apologizing for who I am and decisions I make that others might disagree with, sometimes "I'm sorry" is absolutely called for. As you suggested, it's best to live your life in such a way that you don't need to say it very often. No regrets! I don't know about our readers, but I used that picture on a dating site several months ago and at least one gentleman who wrote to me thought I was in a giant washing machine, LOL! And I have NO IDEA what you and your husband were on Halloween...hmm...

    Megan said...

    Seriously, Pam, my first thought on seeing your photo was "that is SO COOL!" And then after I learned that it was a porthole, I thought "that is SO COOL!" I will reveal the costumes after people (hopefully) make more guesses...

    Anonymous said...

    OK, the universe is trying to tell me something today. I am reading a book called ENJOYING WHERE YOUR ARE ON THE WAY TO WHERE YOU ARE GOING by Joyce Meyer. Today's chapter was Regret and Dread. She states. "Dread does the same thing to us that regret does, except that dread places us in the future, where as regret puts us in the past." I found this to be a huge "AHA" moment for me. I am good with the not regretting the past thing. Figured that one out years ago. No point, waste of time, energy sapper. I also was a chronic apologizer. (also perhaps from my years of working in customer service) but I am getting much better at that. (I have that button that says "I am the kind of girl that apologized to the chair when she bumps into it")
    Definitely something to ponder. Perhaps a good topic for a blog entry today. As for what you are.... First think I though of when I saw it was "Peep and The Big Wide World" You look like Peep and your hubby is the nest? But the white leash thing around your neck is throwing me. Hmmm.....
    P.S. I also thought Pam was in a washing machine when I first looked at it. LOL

    Lindy said...

    You know, Megan, Sorry was in fact my favorite board game as a child. ;-) *laughing* I love your post today. It is no joke that "I'm sorry" is often needed to stave off That Regret but I believe, like you, that having no regrets is the better part of valor. It's been one telling week here at WritersLi.P.P. Wonder what next week will bring. Smooches - Lindy

    Megan said...

    Janice - It does sound like the Universe has a message for you, doesn't it??? Probably for all of us, really.

    Good try on the guesses. No and no, but definitely excellent tries!

    Megan said...

    Oh, Lindy, one of us should have written about the board game!! LOL! That would've been a riot. XOXO

    Lindy said...

    P.S. Pam didn't tell you...that wasn't a porthole at all. It was in fact the World's Biggest Washing Machine. You know, like the World's Biggest Ball of String. It's in Guinness. No really. I think it resides in her home town. ;-)

    Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

    Costumes: After much deliberation, I'm going with shower poof and hairball.

    Amy said...

    I guess since I was at the party that you wore those costumes I'm not entitled to say what they were. But you were both extremely creative!

    Megan said...

    HA! Amy... thanks for not jumping in.

    Okay, Carol is the closest. I was, in fact, a shower poof. Shawn intended to be a loofa, but it didn't turn out so well. I think "hairball" is a more suitable description. Yay, Carol!

    Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

    LOL! That's hilarious. The string at your neck clued me in to yours. His was a wild guess.

    Tami Brothers said...

    Too funny! I never would have gotten the Shower Poof and Loofa. Very cool.

    I am a huge "sorry" saying person. I do say it way to often and I like how you talk about that and regret. I've never really thought about it like that but will definitely give it more thought.