Thursday, April 07, 2005


Why do we regret?

However rational we think we are, we can't help but regret for our action or inaction. 明明知道不能改變什麼,卻總把自己放到同一個處境. As though self-punishment is an involuntary behaviour built inside us. I think that is exactly it. From the surface, regretting seems like a useless emotion that serves no purpose but to put us in misery. From the Darwinian point of view, this can only decrease our chance of survival. Then why do we do it? It clearly wouldn't change anything.

One thing is particularly interesting. Say if you forgot to feed your pet, and it dies due to starvation. You would definitely feel remorse (provided that you like your pet), and wish you have done differently, like feeding it. This clearly wouldn't bring your pet into life (no, there is no miracle). Now consider a different scenario. If you forgot to feed it, but it managed to survive at the end by some freak coincidence, would you still feel bad? Probably not nearly as much. This kinda implies that we feel sorry for the things we lost, or the more pleasant alternative situation comparing to the present. Some people may feel sad for the poor dog, and not expressing any remorse is just not "right". But the subject is not specific, we can also feel regret over a burnt computer power cord. What is common is the fact that we feel like shit.

Perhaps this is just a learning mechanism. We only learn fastest if we experience pain either physically or mentally. We can think of regretting as a self-inflicted pain that we subconsciously impose on ourselves. Whenever a similar situation occurs, the pain is remembered, and hopefully prevents us from making the same mistake.

What if the mistake is so unique that it would not happen again ever? It probably means that there is no reason for regret.

This process of learning took me long enough already. So much for self-punishment, hopefully I have learned my lessons. For now, self-redemption might be more practical.


touchfish said...

why is it that whenver i read stuff you post..
it almost always relate to my live 4~5 hours ago?

I just forgot to handin a perfectly on-time assignment late..
and the course outline clearly state late = dead..
and it's a team stuff..

so much regret..

bluepanta said...

Perfectly understand what u r saying here.
People just tend to forget whatever they had done in the past if it didn't cause any damage.
I try not to make any decision i would regret in the future, but sometimes life is just too complicated to make the right decision. Getting hurt/hurting others sometimes is just the best way for memorizing things. (I am not saying i would like to hurt others.)
I am facing a dicision-making problem currently, and i am totally confused myself just because i don't wanna regret later on. But everything just seems so in a mess right now.
alright, i am messing up myself again. nite~

KuKi said...


why are all your entries so philosophical, yet they aren't too deep for me to understand? love ur writing style :P

I once killed a pine tree.
I once received it as a gift from the "Friends of the Wetland Club".
I once brought it home and decided, "wow I'm gonna make it grow up taller!"
Then I once completely forgot about it after the first time I gave it water.
And so it died.

calliope said...

Haha your post always makes me amazed and entertained. It's kinda like that you are a psyc major... =P

Winnie said...


please update your blog more often!

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