Rejection is temporary. Regret lasts longer.
We sometimes don’t take a risk. We don’t start the conversation, apply for the job, speak up for someone who can’t, show gentleness when we know it’s risky. We don’t always want to put ourselves out there, because it puts us in a vulnerable position. We don’t want to be hurt or rejected. It’s not worth it.
Or is it?
Sure, there are times when the risk of rejection teeters on unhealthy, unsafe situations, placing ourselves in potential harm. We need to be wise in how to proceed. But if the only reason we don’t speak up or act with more humility and kindness is to guard ourselves, our intentions might be skewed.
We all know regret. There are things we wish we had said or delivered in a different way. We wished we stood up for what was right, stopped to help someone, or listened with more intensity. We could learn more, engage more, love more.
We often want to keep our efforts in a box of safety. We want to leave one hand on the door behind us in case we need to slip back and pretend we hadn’t made an effort. Or we slam the door so soundly behind us that there is no hope of going back or, perhaps more importantly, moving forward with more health and peace.
We think bold courage is the only way to take risks, but we can put on a protective mask of hardness that isn’t very risky at all. The rejection hurts less because we’ve already set up our defenses and feel less invested and pre-protected. Bold courage in it’s healthiest form is humble. We can speak and act with a boldness that is partnered with gentleness and kindness. We can extend patience and peace along with the courage it takes to point out an injustice, ask for forgiveness, speak a truth, and confront with accountability.
The potential of regret isn’t just what we do or don’t do but the character with which we step out or step back. Regret is often linked more to who we are than what we do or do not do. Think about it. If you have a single regret, name it. At first, it might seem as if it involves an action or inaction, but dig deeper. Ask yourself why regret is attached to it, and you will often find it has something to do with your character—something you wish you had developed or relied on better or something you wish you would have set aside.
When you speak with bold courage, when you speak with humility, you might be rejected, but when truth and the compassion goes with it, you will have few regrets.