Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai (http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html), which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Below are excerpts from her original blog post.
Ware writes, “For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives. …when questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again…”
Those that are familiar with my articles will know that beliefs and conditioning are at the root of what holds us back from experiencing the best of what life has to offer.
I’ve added in an explanation what beliefs may drive our behaviors that lead many of us to have these regrets.
Here are the most common five regrets:
1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.”
Driver Beliefs: It’s selfish to do what I want. I’m not worthy. I don’t deserve to have what I want. Mistakes and failure are bad. If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected. What makes me good enough and important is having people think well of me. The way to survive is to do what others want me to do. I’m not good enough.
2. “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”
Driver Beliefs: What makes me good enough and important are my achievements. What makes me good enough or important is being successful.
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”
Driver Beliefs: My feelings are not important. If I express my feelings I’ll be rejected. What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me. Anger and conflict are dangerous.
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”
Driver Beliefs: What makes me good enough or important are my achievements. What makes me good enough or important is being successful. You have to work hard to make money. If I express myself I’ll get hurt. Relationships are painful.
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”
Read that again. They “did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.”
Driver Beliefs: Life is difficult. You have to take life seriously. Having fun is childish and stupid. Mistakes and failure are bad. If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected. What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.
Don’t allow your beliefs to cause you to reach the end of your life having lived an unfulfilled life. Eliminate all the beliefs that could keep you from living a full life, from pursuing your dreams, from having your life be all that it can be.
Your only real limits are the limits you place on yourself. Get rid of all those self-imposed limitations. It is possible.