Want To Limit Life Regrets? Consider Therapy

Want To Limit Regrets? Consider Therapy

The other day I ran across an post from the Arise India Forum titled “Nurse Reveals the Top 5 Regrets People Make On Their Deathbed”. Typically for an article of this nature I would post a link on my Facebook page rather highlight it in my blog. But its connection to therapy is so potent that I want to discuss it in more detail.

A palliative care nurse, who has been tracking people’s regrets while they are dying, found that the following five things are most people’s regret on their deathbed:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

The connection between these points and the work I do in my Silver Lake/Los Feliz psychotherapy office is striking. Living for others, unresolved relationships, working too much, and not expressing feelings not only cause anxiety and depression, but also make life feel less full and rewarding.

These themes are common. It is not clear whether this attitude towards life is a push from a larger societal message or from individual/family values, but in any case most people live life consistently doing at least one of the above mentioned regrets.

Therapy can help limit life regrets. Unfortunately a stigma attached to therapy and the values of independence most Americans hold dear turn most away from therapy. However, if someone were to entertain and commit to therapy, if they were to understand that needing help actually met more independence, they might find that life becomes fuller.

I know therapy can support someone in making the deeper change necessary to shift behaviors that can cause regret. One just has to try to it.

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