Regret may be a significant impediment to living the life you desire. Though, it is never too late to change your life around. You may learn to value each day without the baggage of a regret-filled past. Explore your ambitions, take steps toward a new future, and let go of previous errors to learn how to embrace the road you're on.
When we view errors as educational opportunities, remorse turns from a painful feeling to one that serves as a motivator. We constantly made errors as youngsters and learned from them. Crawling and walking were learned via trial and error, and each error taught us something about the world and ourselves. However, as adults, we have forgotten how to fail. We are terrified of failure. To rediscover the fun and utility of making errors, we must reflect on our most significant ones and consider how they molded us.
Consider heartbreak. It is a marital and family therapist that sees both couples and individuals. Therefore, why do some people emerge stronger from a failed relationship while others remain bitter and resentful? It's twofold, in my experience: 1) your perceptions of yourself and others, and 2) your subsequent actions.
To transform regrets, you must first practice forgiveness
When you're attached to regrets as a ship is to an anchor, you can't let them go; they'll continue to drag you down. Forgiveness practice entails forgiving both oneself and any other persons involved. The key to forgiveness is to recognize every one of us as human. Humans are fallible. We make errors not because we are nasty, awful, or undeserving individuals but because we are human.
The second phase is to identify the lessons learned from your experiences and to apply those lessons to future decisions. What is it about which you are regretful? Do you regret your partner's choice or something specific you did while you were together? Do you regret accepting a career you now despise or forgoing an opportunity you believe you would have adored?
If you regret not taking action on anything, consider how you may take action today. Even if the position you're looking for is no longer available, others may be available. Instead of dwelling for the rest of your life on the career that slipped away while doing a job you despise, channel your rage into a desire to find a job you could enjoy.
If you've always desired a job as a writer but chose the safe road of becoming an accountant, it's never too late to pursue another path. Alternatively, consider starting a community or family newsletter if it is too drastic a shift or financially impractical.
If you're sorry for whatever you've done, make amends. If you have harmed someone, contact them or send them a letter. If they have died or you cannot reach them, do something in their honor, such as donating to a charity or volunteer.
Three Steps to a Regret-Free Life
1. Re-frame your narrative
Instead of criticizing yourself for "that foolish thing I did," keep in mind that you did the best you could with the facts and perspective available. It's easy to judge yourself now that you benefit from hindsight or experience, but you didn't have either when you chose to live on donuts and coffee, the date the wrong person, or declare a major in college. "When you know better, you do better," author Maya Angelou famously stated.
2. Tell your tale again
To change your regret into wisdom, ask yourself the following critical question: "What did I learn from this?" Permit each experience to serve as a teacher. Have you pursued a profession that you never desired? Were you a devoted employee to a boss who let you go?
Have you been frightened to speak up or too eager to compromise? Or perhaps you discovered that your most endearing characteristics, such as inventiveness or commitment, are best shared with individuals who appreciate them. However, you may have found that bad things happen regardless of who you are.
3. Rewrite your narrative
You cannot change what has occurred in the past, but you can alter your behavior in the present. Make your vast, massive lesson more than just insight—make it a cause for change. What can you begin doing today to re-imagine your present and future, even if it's just a mental shift? Perhaps you'll develop a greater trust in yourself or abandon your quest for perfection. Maybe you'll get better sleep or seek new employment. The story is entirely up to you.
When we view errors as educational opportunities, remorse turns from a painful feeling to one that serves as a motivator. Some people emerge stronger from a failed relationship, while others remain bitter and resentful. Regrets are attached to regrets like a ship to an anchor - you can't let them go. If you regret not taking action on anything, consider how you may take action today. Re-frame your narrative to reflect that you did the best you could with the facts at the time.