Living With Regret

By Archelon

I am human.  I make mistakes.  As my mom used to say: “If people didn’t make mistakes, there wouldn’t be erasers on the ends of pencils.”  Regretting what I’ve done can at best be only a temporary part of my story.  If I face regret and have true remorse, then maybe I can use it as a springboard for myself. I regret some of the things I’ve said and done.  I’ve messed up.  I have a few years ahead of me still, maybe even a decade or so.  I live with my regrets.  They were lessons.  And I choose to learn from them. And I forgive myself.  There is power in self-forgiveness, and sometimes it can be hard to forgive ourselves.   I say it again.  I forgive myself.

I can can live with regret.  And guess what?  You can live with regret. There, it’s been said.  A lot of people bravely say that they want to live life with no regrets.  However, there is a lot that needs to be said regarding regret, and you might want to think about living life without regret. But is having regrets healthy?  And what is regret?

What is the Real Meaning of Regret?

According to Psychology Today:

“Regret is a negative cognitive/emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.” [VIEW SOURCE]

Is It Possible to Live Without Regret?

There are only a few people who have no regrets, however, the only people that truly have no regrets are sociopaths.  A sociopath will have their own agenda and will leave behind their victims while constantly pursuing that agenda.  Regret involves pausing to consider their course of action, which is not something a sociopath can do comfortably.  So having regrets is fairly normal. The key to them is not to let regrets dominate your thoughts, nor allow them to be used against you.  Instead use them to your advantage.

If you have regrets for something that you’ve done, come to terms with it.  Own it.  Admit that you made a mistake and consciously choose to learn from that mistake.  So many people regret something that they did long ago, and use it to polish the wood on the cross that they carry around.  It’s an easy trap to fall into.  I’ve fallen into it a few times.  I also kept buying that crap about “Live life without regret.” However, without regret, without facing myself and all of my imperfections, I will never able to really learn and grow.   And not facing regret makes your soul and spirit sicken, trust me I know. Why?

Holding onto regrets  is the absolutely worst thing you can do.  Why?  Well for one, regrets are always part of your past.  Whatever you regret could be just a few seconds ago, or years or even decades past, but they are all in your rear view mirror. There are no regrets in the future, nor the present.  And look at it this way.  If someone in your life constantly reminded you of some mistake you made in the past, after a while, you’d sever ties with that person.  It is crucial to forgive yourself; and if you hold onto your regrets you haven’t truly forgiven yourself. And as Jack Kornfield once said: “If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete.”

So maybe that is what they mean by living without regrets.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s all in how you perceive regrets.  Regrets can be weights that you carry with you, constantly weighing you down, and making you doubt who you are.  Or they can be mileposts that you look back at and see how far you’ve come.

Other Resources

Questioning Forgiveness by Djourney April 26, 2017 https://azreclaiming.com/2017/04/26/questioning-forgiveness/

The Psychology of Regret, Melanie Greenberg Ph.D, Pyschology Today May 6 2012. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201205/the-psychology-regret

20 Quotes to Inspire Self-Compassion Habits for Well Being http://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/20-quotes-to-inspire-self-compassion/

How to Love Your Authentic Self By Lori Deschene Tiny Buddha http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-love-your-authentic-self/

Why I Stopped Apologizing for Being Me By Jacky Exton http://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-i-stopped-apologizing-for-being-me/

 

Why Should I Care About Them? Or Excuse Me, Your Privilege is Showing

By M.W. Whitaker

strike-protest-human-group-collection-many-peopleI am not them, so why should we care about them? Who are they?  See if any of these sound familiar:

“I am not gay, I’m straight.  They follow an immoral lifestyle choice.”

“God I am so sick of hearing about transgender rights.  Can’t they just be  the gender that they’re born?”

“Wah wah, poor refugees have no home. What a shame, but I don’t want any of them in my neighborhood.”

“Women should submit to their husbands. They should not have any life outside of the home.”

“They are in this country illegally. They’re criminals.”

“That’s the way it’s always been. Why should we change things for them?”

“God I hate men, they are such pigs.”

“White people, you gotta love them.”

“You have to respect what they are saying. Everyone has a right to their opinion.”

“Who cares about the whales? They’re animals.”

Whenever we start to judge people that is when people stop being people and become them.  We focus on their differences.  They worship a different god, or worship the same one in a different way.  They are brown, or not quite right.  Whatever the differences someone has, those differences are perceived as a threat.

People are gregarious and often like to congregate with other people that look the same way, think the same way, act the same way. If we’re not careful, we form cliques, exclusive clubs, and worst of all, thought bubbles.  Thought bubbles are safe.  They isolate us from the new and strange and keep us in the familiar and comfortable.  They are ancient, and are one of the things that have divided the world.  When you put anyone into the category of Them, unless they are giant mutant ants from a 50’s B Movie, you are indirectly lumping them into the category of Other.

Othering happens when people see only one part of who someone is. Instead of seeing a fellow human being, they only see someone who likes the same gender, or is of a different belief system than they are.  There are three problems that are the greatest threats to society: ignorance, cruelty, and complacency.  They intertwine and choke off all that is good in the world.

Ignorance is dangerous because when it becomes ingrained, it leads to terrible “ism” behaviors such as racism, sexism, nationalism, fascism, the list goes on and on.

Cruelty takes its lead from ignorance. Cruelty is the lack of compassion.  When people are cruel, their ignorance fuels their behavior.  Cruelty can lead us down paths that aren’t just dark , they’re malevolent and evil.  Cruelty leads to destroyed lives, and perpetual cycles of violence.

Complacency is the worst of the three. Just because a state of being has been doesn’t mean that it is what we are supposed to keep doing.  There is only one constant in the Universe: everything does, can, and must change.

So how do we as witches know what is right and what is wrong? We have no central book to refer to.  It’s really simple.  We need to look at ourselves.  We are Othered by society simply for being witches.  Judging and othering are part of being human.  But instead of denying these behaviors and suppressing it, we need to embrace them and use them to our advantage.

Discriminate against people who define and tell others that everyone must conform to a life based on their expectations. Discriminate against bigots and zealots no matter where they’re from.  Some you’ll be able to sway, but there will be some people you won’t be able to reach, and in this lifetime anyway, they will not be united with anyone that believes the same way that they do.  No platitudes about room for everyone at the table.  No touchy feely. If someone is advocating hatred and violence against someone else for whatever reason, step away from them. Never give into violence. You are dancing to their tune. If someone judges you for being who and what you are, don’t try to change their mind with words.  Don’t change. Show who you are.  Do it by the way you live your life and the way you treat others.  If someone tells you that as a man you should know how to fix things, tell them to fix it themselves.  If someone tells you as a woman that your place is in the home and that you should be married and submissive to your man, tell them you’re going out and you have stuff to do that has nothing to do with them.  Someone calls you a freak for not identifying with the gender that you’re born as, don’t re-masculate or re-feminize yourself to please them. Let your “freak” flag fly.  You are who you are, embrace it.  If someone gets in your face for the color of your skin, the way you worship or don’t, supporting people or creatures that are marginalized, look at your accuser coolly and say, “It looks like your privilege is showing.”

Or to quote Michael Jackson from the song “Man in the Mirror“: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.

Sometimes, It’s All in Your Head

By M.W. Whitaker

Sometimes as witches, we don’t realize that we are constantly shaping the world around us. Our thoughts can literally change existence.  If you find yourself becoming negative, as sometimes, unfortunately, I do and all of us do sooner or later.  Consider this quote:

“The human mind in its capacity the ability to make a Hell out of Heaven, or a Heaven out of Hell

-Francois Rabelais

 

What Are You Afraid Of? It’s Only You

By M.W. Whitaker

Have you ever thought that that reason you don’t do something is that you are afraid? Sometimes our fear is valid. Fear can protect us. Not wanting to swim through a crocodile-infested river doesn’t make you a coward, nor does running with the bulls indicate bravery. Fear can protect us in some cases, and give us the fight or flight necessary for our survival. But what about our other fears? Where do they come from and how do they shape us in our daily lives?

We fear rejection. We fear being alone or of something bad happening in our lives. But worst of all, we are afraid of ourselves. This last fear is one that is instilled in us, whether by others, by diverse religious beliefs or because we learn it somewhere. We are taught to fear and suppress our darker sides. We’re taught that we are born evil and can only be redeemed through Christ, and that our whole life we must deny the darker part of our nature. And that’s the kicker. We’re denying part of who we are.

Dark and light are interconnected and interwoven throughout existence. Consider the Celtic knot, or the yin-yang symbol. Even the Gods have this duality. Amitābha is one of the many incarnations of Buddha and is kind and benevolent, however, he also has a wrathful side: Yamantaka. Shiva is a destroyer god, but his destruction brings renewal and regrowth, just as Sekhmet can for her devotees.  Need  further convincing of how darkness and light are interwoven?  Look at nature.

Great white sharks are terrifying creatures.  The are the size of a good size car or truck, have hard dagger teeth, and can swim far faster than a human being.  They attack from below and underneath  a person who would never see them coming.  However, sharks of all persuasions serve a vital ecological niche.  Look at coral reefs.  A large shark preys on fish like the giant grouper.   If there is no shark to eat the grouper, the grouper will eat the parrotfish which loves to eat algae off of coral reefs, and keep them healthy.  With no predator, biodiversity can collapse, and reefs can die.    Fishermen were killing Pacific sea otters because they were eating some of the salmon, however, while sea otters do like salmon, they also like to eat purple sea urchins which kill the kelp forests that baby salmon mature in.  Fishermen found that when they stopped killing sea otters, their catches improved.  A ladybug looks sweet, but it eats other bugs in a garden.  A sunflower sea star is beautiful, but is also an apex predator on the sea floor.

This plane of existence is the union of opposites.  You cannot have life without death, joy without sorrow, nor light without dark.  Why would you be any different?

Have you ever met your shadow self, or seen the darker side of you? If you haven’t, you might want to introduce yourself, and embrace that part of who you are. Should you let your dark side run everything? Of course not. Sometimes it is more appropriate to work with light. But sometimes, as a witch you have to stare into the abyss within yourself and know that you are being stared back at. Nature is an interwoven tapestry of darkness and light, and so are you. What are you afraid of? It’s only you.

The Importance of Play: Or Embracing the Trickster

By M.W. Whitaker

girl-and-laughing-camel-2Witches should be serious at all times about our craft. With that said, it cannot be stressed how important play is, or more specifically, how important enjoyment, laughter, and play are.

Reclaiming isn’t solemn. It is not supposed to be.  It is ecstatic.  It is the embrace of the natural world, so let’s take a look at what nature is like.

Ravens and crows are black, and in some cultures they are considered creatures of ill omen, just as witches are. But what can ravens teach us about our world and ourselves as witches?  Well, for one thing, ravens are very intelligent creatures, and like all intelligent creatures they love to play.  Sometimes ravens have been observed playing around in areas with a lot of wind.  At first, biologists thought that they were doing mating dances, or territorial displays but then it was discovered that they were playing.  They were essentially doing the avian equivalent of surfing, or skateboarding.

Dolphins and whales are curious, inquisitive, and will often come into the shallows to interact with people and other animals. They also love to race ships at sea, and like their distant cousins the humpback whales, they love to jump out of the water.  It was originally thought that dolphins and whales were doing this as a way to stun fish or plankton, however, it was later noted that after breaching, the whales  and dolphins were not feeding, nor were they being territorial.  They were jumping out the water for the simple enjoyment of it.

Dogs and cats like to play, and it isn’t just leftover hunting behavior. How many times have you seen a dog romping with his or her owner, and doing activities that dogs normally don’t do?  Briards are dogs well known for their ability and desire to play and to learn new things.  Cats also love to play, and it isn’t just squeaky toys.  Sometimes, they love to climb and jump for the sake of climbing and jumping.

Consider the joy and the laughter you experience dancing around a maypole or a bonfire. Did you ever have a teacher who was funny, and marched to the beat of her own drum?  I bet it would surprise you to know how much you learned from her, and how much you remember.

Laughter releases endorphins in our systems, and since we often laugh when we are surprised, it clears the fog around us, and makes us focus on what someone else is saying. Laughter can be an effective way to teach someone, just as genuine joy and happiness can.

Tricksters are often maligned. They bring mischief to calm and chaos to order.  Yet sometimes, the trickster can teach us something.  She can teach us to enjoy life a bit more, and maybe not take ourselves or the world seriously.  He can teach us ways to overcome adversity by not struggling continually with a problem but to face a bit of the absurd and to laugh at a non-sequitur completely unrelated.

So remember, She herself said “All acts of pleasure are my rituals.” Sing.  Clap your hands.  Laugh at yourself and the world every now and then. Be serious when it’s absolutely necessary.  Just don’t forget to laugh.  When you do, you honor yourself, and the trickster god or goddess in us all.

Are your gods real or simply beliefs?

http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/dreaming-the-myth/are-archetypes-real.html

The link above will connect you with John Halstead’s article on the subject of beliefs, God(dess)s,  and archetypes. It was published last month in the witchesandpagans.com website.

Does this article resonate with you? What are your experiences? Care to express your opinion?

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                  Eagle Nebula