Last week’s post focused on stumbling often, you can read it here if you missed it. It was to remind you that stumbling, aka, making a fool of yourself, or falling flat on your face, is all part of your own perfect path. Today I want to bring up regret because we all have decisions we’ve made in the past that we do regret.
First off, I think feeling regret is perfectly normal and human. There are little regrets like, oh gosh, had I not spent that extra $30 every week on dinner out for 10 years, I could have invested that and been a millionaire by now. And bigger ones I encountered when I worked as a counselor with individuals addicted to drugs. They regret ever taking something to get high for fun not realizing it could change the chemistry of their brain and turn them into lying, cheating, stealing drug hungry maniacs. That’s not an easy one to overcome my friends.
Regret is about wishing the past was different. This is only a problem because we build up stories in our minds about how the present would be vastly different if we had either done something we didn’t do or not done what we did do. Which is actually hooey if you think about it. You don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future right now, knowing how a decision you make today will play out in a month, so how could you have possibly had one back then to see to the present? See my point?
But our smart little minds have decided that had you chosen B 3 years ago instead of A, your life would be SO much better right now. Right? I mean how many of us say, had I chosen something else back then my life would just be sucky right now. No, we almost always think option B would have made us happier if we’d only chosen that one. We just assume life would be better.
Except there is absolutely no way you can go back in time, change your decision, then see how that would play out.
At the same time, we can all look back on some of the decisions we made in the past and remember thinking, I probably shouldn’t do this, or you weren’t thinking, or were stressed, or made a decision out of fear. And those probably turned out terribly.
So how can you deal with regret in a healthy way?
You’ve got to start by experiencing it. Don’t cover it up and pretend you aren’t feeling it.
Think about something you regret. Then go ahead and feel mad, be sad, disappointed, hurt, pissed, whatever it is you’re feeling. You’d be amazed at how just spending a few minutes fully experiencing your regret, even if it’s pretty painful at the time, can give way to relief and peace.
I also think it is super helpful to take stock of choices you have made in the past. Decisions about jobs, relationships, spending money, eating, drinking, and anything else. Did those decisions come from a place of calm, or more from a place of stress?
Go back in your mind and think about the last two big decisions you made in your life. How did they turn out? More importantly, notice what place you were in mentally and emotionally when you made them. Relaxed or worried? Do you notice any correlations?
Decisions that come from a place of kindness and love usually end up better than those that come from fear.
Wishing for a different past won’t create a different present.
Feel your regret, know what space you were in when you made the decisions that led to the regret, then plan to make your next decision from a place of peace.
It’s your life energy. Do you want to keep focusing on what you regret, or sit with it, learn from it, then move forward with confidence and decide you’ll make future decisions from a good feeling place rather than fear. I wouldn’t be surprised if the future turns out better because of it.
Are you still carrying around regret you need to feel and let go of? Join the conversation on the blog by leaving a comment below, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.
As always, take from here what works for you, share with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest you can leave behind.