Ridding Yourself of Regret

REGRET: Regret is a way of thinking. It’s a way that YOU decide to feel about an experience with something or someone. It’s not permanent unless you decide it is, and this you can change at any moment simply by choosing to do so. We don’t ever need to have any regrets in our lives. Yes, we all have things in our life that didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but you are still here, so you can choose to do things differently the next time around. Regret is painful, paralyzing, negative, debilitating, and it only harms YOU, not the experience or the person you may feel that way towards. We owe it to ourselves to choose to see the experience as a lesson we can learn and grow from, only then do we move on from it and become better.

A few years ago I would have had a notebook full of regrets, but if you ask me today how many regrets I have, the answer is NONE! It took me years to learn how to let go of negative associations I attached to people and experiences in my life. For years I would beat myself up for mistakes I made and hold resentments towards people that have hurt me. That attitude only made things worse for me and held me back from having successful relationships, friendships, and enjoyable experiences.

To escape from the confinement of regret you have to learn to truly accept what happened and let it go. It’s almost like going through the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Letting go can be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do, but sometimes it’s one of the things you MUST do to get to a better place in your life. Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting, or building hate or resentments, or that you’re weak. It just means that you have finally accepted the situation and made peace with it, and that doesn’t mean you approve of it, but rather that you are done fighting it; it has served its purpose and its time is done; it’s time to move on.

Many times harboring regrets is one of the biggest things holding us back in life. I challenge you to make a list of any regrets you have, and then go down the list and work through them one by one. You won’t be able to change the experience, but you can change the way you look at the experience. Remember, don’t stress yourself out over trying to fix or change things that you don’t have control over; you may need to just learn from it and let go of the negative association you attached to it.

To help you work through your regrets, as you go down the list, ask yourself these questions for each one of them:

What can I do differently next time?

What can I learn from this?

Can I still change this around, if so, how?

How can this experience make me better? 

How can I use this experience to teach others?

I am grateful for this experience because it taught me __________? 

What will it cost me if I don’t let go of this regret?

What will I gain by letting go of this regret?

Who am I really hurting by holding on to this regret?

What hurt me the most about this experience, and why was being hurt this way significant to me?

Acknowledge What Happened

First, you must acknowledge what happened. Don’t pretend it never happened. When we accept or admit the existence of this truth we open ourselves up to the possibility of change, maybe not a change in the experience, but rather a change within us.

Sort Your Feelings

Next, you must figure out why you feel the way you do about the experience, and then think about what you can do differently next time, or right now, so that you won’t experience the same thing again.

For example:

If you regret a relationship you once had with someone, then ask yourself why you regret this relationship. Maybe you feel like your time was wasted because things didn’t work out, maybe you feel like the trust was broken because honesty is really important to you, or maybe you feel like the level of compromise wasn’t equal because you felt you gave more than the other did.

If you feel like you regret the relationship because you wasted your time, then dig deep and ask yourself, did you really waste your time? Did you learn anything from the relationship? Did you become someone better or worse in the process? Did you discover anything new about what you want or don’t want in a partner? There are always lessons to be learned, and there is always an opportunity for growth. It’s all a matter of how you choose to look at things.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your own estimate of it, and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” – Marcus Aurelius

Here’s another example:

When you were younger you dreamed of becoming a doctor, but maybe a lack of resources and hard times steered you in another direction, maybe fear or lack of self-confidence stopped you. Nonetheless, you’re older now and regret that you didn’t pursue your dream.

All is not lost. Ask yourself; why did I not become a doctor? Can I still become a doctor? How can I make this happen? Maybe you can go to night school, or volunteer at a local clinic. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Don’t harbor the regret and pain of not fulfilling your dream. Instead, find ways you can actively be involved in that industry. Be more proactive as opposed to reactive.

Let It Go

Lastly, It’s not really the circumstance you find yourself in, but rather the attitude or approach you take towards the situation that shapes the outcome. Changing your way of thinking can do wonders for changing your life; it all starts with your thoughts.

Accept the situation for what it is. Maybe you needed to learn something, maybe you needed to teach someone something, or maybe you needed to go through this to get to where you’re supposed to be. Life is all about learning and growing into a superior you.

Once you fully work through your feelings about the experience or person, only then can you let it go. Don’t be afraid to explore your feelings, they are there for a reason, and it’s not to be ignored. Yes, you may feel pain, disconnect, confusion, but once you work through that, you are free to feel joy, fulfillment, contentment and an abundant life.

Don’t make excuses, just make a way.

Change your life, Dream Believe & Become.

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