Maybe regret is only regret because we keep it locked in a cedar strongbox at the foot of the bed. We keep it there thinking it’s locked away and can’t hurt us again. But maybe if we unlocked the box and set it free, it would stop festering. It might even turn into wisdom.

If you stopped putting the overlay of today onto it, regret really would have a different name. Today, you know better. Today, you learn from mistakes.

Back then, you took the advice of peers as gospel. Or didn’t trust your own gut.

What would regret be if you set if free? A learning experience, perhaps. Or just a faded picture in the scrapbook of your life with no intention to cause you pain today. It’s not an assassin sent to destroy your joy.

It’s not the Terminator from the original movie. It’s the one from the sequel, sent to protect you this time! “I’ll be back” it says (in the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger) only, now, as something positive.

Having compassion for who you were at the time makes it easier to extend it to people you meet who don’t seem to know better. Maybe they don’t. But they might see the light someday, just as you do now. They may open up the lockbox of life lessons just as you did, and see the world in a different way.