In the book "Pathways to Nonviolent Communication* " by Jim Manske, one of the skills called "Beneficial regret" is defined as the following: "Acknowledging and learning from missed opportunities to meet needs, without guilt, shame, or self-punishment."
The feelings of guilt and shame have been so far too well known to me, shading my life in many different ways. I assume that anyone familiar with these destructive emotions can agree that these rob us of our joy and are unquestionably the heaviest feelings we feel.
Today an incident happened, giving me a first-hand experience of the power and beauty of beneficial regret versus guilt or shame.
I chanted in the temple early morning and had my phone on silent mode. When I noticed it, my good husband had been messaging and calling me, wanting to be picked up and join the second morning program.
I rushed home - yet it was too late...
For a split second, I got a glimpse of the road of guilt-tripping myself and decided I was not going there anymore. Yet, I didn't want to close my heart and make the face that nothing had happened. I also didn't like to resort to self-defense and justify myself.
At the same time, I didn't wish to deny that I felt sad and regretted missing the opportunity to serve my beloved husband. I desired to acknowledge my need to protect myself from unwanted disturbances by putting my phone on silent mode. Yet, simultaneously, I yearned to hold my husband's needs with at least as much care as mine.
The choice to stay present to my sadness, and clarity about valuing my needs as much as my husband's, opened my heart to a beneficial regret. I regretted the missed opportunity sincerely and realized that I wanted to find different ways to protect myself from disturbances so that my good husband would still have the possibility to get the connection with me when needed.
I celebrate the grace which enabled me to transform guilt into learning and to own my part in an outcome that did ultimately meet neither the needs of my dear husband nor me.
I feel deeply grateful to my beloved Spiritual Master for encouraging me to continue learning, living, and sharing Nonviolent Communication*. These sweet fruits became possible only due to his causeless mercy.
*Empathic Communication is inspired by and adapted to the devotee community from the Nonviolent Communication process developed by Marshall B.Rosenberg.