Regret has been on my mind over the past month. I don’t fear having regret for choosing Intellectual Virtues Academy for my son – first year kinks and all. I feel sadness for families who do not choose IVA and, after the school year begins, regret that decision. To me, this would be a difficult loss to experience.
Curious about what causes the feeling of regret, I conducted a quick search and discovered this explanation on Psychology Today: “… the easier it is to envisage a different outcome, the more likely we are to regret the lost opportunity.” Which led me to wonder, if we do not wish to experience regret, how might we avoid it in our decision-making?
My wonder took me to an article by Martha Beck where she wrote, “So the ultimate lesson of regret, the one that will help guide you into a rich and satisfying future, is this: Every time life brings you to a crossroads, from the tiniest to the most immense, go toward love, not away from fear. Think of every choice in terms of 'What would thrill and delight me?' rather than 'What will keep my fear—or the events, people, and things I fear—at bay?'”
When it comes to a decision about our children’s education, what might we fear? Risk? Discomfort? Change? Imperfections? New vs. known? Breaking tradition? Perceived limitations? Martha Beck affirms this. “Sometimes the choice will be utterly clear. Love steers you forward, and no fear arises. But on many occasions, things will seem trickier. The path toward what you love may be fraught with uneasiness, anxiety, outright terror.”
Tricky decisions require us to be intellectually courageous. Dr. Jason Baehr defines Intellectual Courage as a disposition to persist in thinking, inquiring, discussion, and similar activities, despite the presence of some threat or fear, including fear of embarrassment or failure. When I reflect on “inquiring and discussion,” it implies more than one person is there to help me process the decision I am wrestling with. A community that can affirm I am not alone in my fear can help me be courageous in my decisions. It’s good to know I’m not alone.