Contrasts on How to Deal with Risks and Regrets
Both mess with your mind. The main difference? Taking the wrong risk can kill you. However, a huge regret can make the rest of your life, and those around you, miserable.
You must predict the future and speculate! Sometimes, that is easy. You have stepped out of your shower a thousand times, onto the same bathmat, holding the same grab bar, with no distractions. The odds of you falling are small. The risk is still there, but not likely.
Every activity in life, even sleeping in your bed, contains an element of risk. For example, the roof might collapse. However, there’s no reason to turn into a catatonic ball.
You can ignore most risks and control the rest.
Stupid risk vs. calculated risk
Stupid: The brain is not engaged.
When I was in high school, I used to drive like a maniac. I stupidly risked myself, my passengers, and others on the road. I had that driven home a bit when two of my classmates died in a wreck.
Even that wasn’t enough, though. After all, aren’t all teenagers invincible?
Later, the state of Indiana decided to physically examine my driver’s license for a whole month in Indianapolis. I didn’t learn from the first event, but I never risked losing my license again.
Calculated: You have done some research and planning.
Upon retirement, we decided to move to Lima, Peru. Health insurance is $300 per year, the weather was mild, we knew a few people there, and our experience on prior visits was encouraging. Of course, I had to learn Spanish.
After five months, we discovered that housing was more expensive, people we knew had their own lives, and we didn’t find places to go dancing. We realized that The Villages, FL met all of our needs and interests and finally settled there. We will go dancing in the Square before I finish this article.
If we had not gone to Peru first, we would have always wondered. That is one form of regret that we avoided.
All risks from this point forward in this article are calculated risks.
Physical risk vs. emotional risk
Physical: You could get injured or killed.
Why would someone jump out of a perfectly good airplane? My brother and his girlfriend do, though. With today’s technology, the physical risks of the fairly new plane crashing, the chute not opening, or a poor landing are small.
However, yesterday a B-52 bomber crashed, killing many people. Even though it was well maintained, it was 70+ years old. Parts wear out. Just metal fatigue increased the risk substantially.
Most romance novels dwell on emotional risks. What if he doesn’t like me. What if she leaves. What if I say the wrong thing. In regency romance novels, what if she says yes and the father says no. What about gossip?
Me, I was afraid of girls. Nothing terrified me more than asking a girl for a date, let alone touching her. What if she laughed? Says no! Even worse, jokes about it with other people.
All of these “what ifs” in your mind may never happen. Some people worry so much that they become ill. I decided to change when I went to college. The fear was still there. I ignored it and learned from my mistakes, but it took until age 54 before I got it right.
You have to decide not to be ruled by your emotions in relationships, work, family, and other interactions or situations. They may still be there, but not in charge. That reduces the emotional risk.
Predictable risk vs. unknown risk
Most risks are predictable and we can plan for them. We know what a hurricane can do and make sure that we are not at home to greet it. Weather, although sporadic, is reasonably predictable. Lima even has an earthquake season.
Health is another matter. You can get vaccines and take other precautions to reduce some risks, but not everything. Modern medicine can reduce a lot of risks if the patient gets checked fairly often.
As for completely unknown risks, there is no way to prepare for them, since they are unknown. You hope that you can handle the situation when it happens.
You cannot alter the event that caused the regret. Regret tends to revolve around relationships and missed opportunities. Some people dwell on what happened until they, and others, are miserable either through violence, sorrow, or anger.
If you hurt someone else, the best you can do is try to make amends. If the other way, a grudge can hurt you for a very long time. Either way, you need to make sure that it does not happen again by leaving or getting help.
Maybe the regret is not part of a relationship. It could be something else - any activity at all from visiting relatives you haven’t seen for years, learning to play an instrument, of vacationing to a distant land.
Anything you regret not doing and can still do:
Plan and do
If you missed one chance, create another one. There is no risk in planning except that you may be disappointed when you are no longer physically capable of doing it. Avoid the risk of driving people nuts by talking about it constantly without taking any action.
Personally, I’m willing to try new things as long as they aren’t too dangerous, meaning that I won’t risk my skin or broken bones. Since retirement, I've moved to Peru, taken guitar and piano lessons, and got up on the karaoke stage for the first time in my life (song: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow).
Looking back over the last 60 years, I don’t regret much. I did what I wanted, not what I expected when I entered college, in my work life. I can’t change anything with my prior personal situations. I do regret not keeping in touch with my cousins that I grew up with.
This article results from a challenge from Shaunta Grimes to write an article on “Risk and Regret” by the end of the day. I included my typical brief analysis of everything.