A newsletter reader chimed in last week after reading my post about regrets. It focused on moving forward in your life and making decisions without regret. If you missed it, you can catch Regrets here. But she wanted to know how to let go of regrets from the past and not feel guilty. Good one!
Let’s dive in.
Think about a choice you made in your past that you regret making. Even to this day it might still sting. Possibly a lot! You made a choice in that moment, and it turned out horribly. Then you have to live with that outcome. And the outcome came about because of you. Guilt comes in. I did something wrong. I made a mistake. Regret. Something didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped it would and/or I shouldn’t have done that.
Compassion for yourself from yourself.
This is where you get still and quiet, and think about your action(s) from a place of kindness for a small child.
I believe that when we make choices in our lives, we make them from the best information we have at that time. From whatever we feel intuitively at that time. From the wisest part of ourselves, at that time.
Think about who you are today. Would the you today still make the same decision you did in the past? My guess is probably not. You know more now, you are wiser now. If you had known what you know now then you might have made a different choice. Maybe.
But I also believe that you would not be who you are today without having made the choice you made back then. Every choice we make, and experience the results of, helps us grow into who we are. What have you learned about yourself by making the choices you did in the past? How has it informed your wiser self today?
When you look at your past choices through the lens of compassion, growth, and learning, regret has no foothold really. Because you wouldn’t be who you are right now if you hadn’t made that choice back then. It’s all part of your journey. Plus, there is no way to know what the outcome would have been in the past and who you’d be today had you chosen differently. Your mind might tell you that you would know, but you really can’t know.
I don’t believe in mistakes. We make choices, then see the result. From that result, we make more choices, and so on.
Guilt is optional. So is regret.
You are who you are not in spite of the choices you made, but because of them. And that is something to own and embrace.
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