“The Top Five Regrets of the Dying” – Regret Number Three

I continue my posts about Bronnie Ware’s “Five Top Regrets of the Dying”. 

The third regret is: „I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings”.

That’s a difficult one. And I believe it’s difficult for many people – far more than we think. Because this regret is, in fact, all about the fear of rejection. 

We’re so afraid to say what we feel! And one of the reasons for that is that we don’t want to make fools of ourselves. And it’s not only about expressing your feelings towards your loved ones (still, that’s the hardest one). It’s about expressing your feelings about everything that’s around you (including your job, environment, friends) and what’s important to you. Saying things out loud requires courage (no question about that) and takes a lot of guts. It’s an act of becoming vulnerable – and usually, we’re afraid that our vulnerability will be mistaken for weakness. And the truth is that it’s quite the opposite. Having the courage to say what you feel is a sign of your strength and self-awareness. It also means you’re going after what you care about. 

It was difficult for me, too, but something changed in me at some point. Well, the fact is: I put a lot of work into it the past few years. And I’m not afraid anymore. I might be wrong, but I do believe that chance comes from deep within oneself. I believe that once you’re comfortable with yourself – with the person you’ve becoming – it’s easier for you to express yourself. The fear of rejection is not that overpowering anymore. The way I see it is, the more you accept and love yourself, the more you care about yourself. And that means that you finally know what and who you want to be around. That gives you strength to say the things you feel.

When you think of that – what’s the worst that could happen if you express your emotions…? Ok, you might be misunderstood, you might be taken as needy, you might be – as I said before – rejected. Or laughed at. And it all hurts. But you know what hurts even more…? The awareness that you acted against yourself; the fact that you didn’t stay true to yourself and that you didn’t say important words to someone you cared about. Is the feeling of being misunderstood really scarier to you than the feeling of having lost an opportunity? I choose to take the risk. Waiting for the right moment is not always the best option. Postponing things, as if you were to live forever, is not the best action either. As I said a few times on JLNY already: all you have is today. So express yourself today. Because it’s not that tomorrow might not come. It will probably come, but tomorrow might be too late to say the things you should have said yesterday.