Are You Stuck in Regret?

Have you ever made a mistake? Of course, you have. We all have. Do you look back at some of those mistakes or choices you made and have regrets? My guess is that many of you are answering in the affirmative.

I decided to write about this because of a conversation I had recently with someone very dear to me. And the truth is that if you’re walking around filled with regret and remorse it’s going to impact how you feel about yourself and also affect your relationships. It certainly seems to be a topic worthy of discussion.

Have it your way
While you were growing up, there’s a real good chance that your parents tried to get you to learn something by their experience in order to spare you the heartache or misfortune they went through. And, most likely, it didn’t work. It does seem that “the school of hard knocks” is the best teacher.

The issue then becomes whether you did something that didn’t work out and learned from it. I truly believe that there are no bad choices because each choice you make has the opportunity to teach you something.

Unfortunately, many times people repeat the same mistake. Why? My guess is that the decision is not being made from a stance of clear thinking but rather is emotionally driven. Emotions are very powerful; not only will they win out over logic but they prevent the ability to think something through.

New awakenings
Then, one day there’s an “aha” moment and you wake up, so to speak, and realize the mistake(s) you’ve made. Now, the regret sets in. Along with the regret is usually a good deal of ruminating and questioning about your judgement and the actions you took. Likely, there’s lots of self-blaming.

All of this serves no purpose! Rather, here are some tips to help you:

  1. Choose to forgive yourself. This may be a difficult task but it is a necessary one. To keep beating yourself up will only keep you stuck and, therefore, block you from moving forward.
  2. Stop ruminating over the past. There’s no purpose in endlessly going over the details of your mistake. When these thoughts come into your head, stop them by forcing yourself to think of anything else. With practice, this gets easier and easier.
  3. Apologize to others. If you’re actions hurt another person, consider offering them an apology. In order for the apology to be effective, it must be sincere, include a statement of what you did, and an acknowledgement of the pain it caused the other person. Don’t necessarily expect an immediate response from the person, but offer him or her some time to consider forgiving you.
  4. Discover your motivation. If your past actions were ones that only involved you, think about what motivated you act they way you did. Address these concerns so that they don’t need to be expressed again in some way at another time.
  5. Be willing to “let go” of the past. In other words, what you’ve done is done. Be proud of yourself for facing this issue, know that it is a process, and be willing to continue to move forward.

So, stop punishing yourself but do make an important choice — once you are aware of how you functioned, it is your responsibility as to whether to learn the lesson or not. By making this choice you (and your relationship) will be stronger!