Surviving regret

Can you live without regrets?

Regret is an emotion stemming from those things we wish we hadn’t done, had done or done differently. Some of us have those regrets tied in with guilt and this is an even tougher emotion to shake. These two emotions can actually keep us from living a peaceful life. The recurring thoughts, maybe obsession make our self-esteem plummet and keep us tied to the past, unable to forget what we believe are our biggest mistakes.

A book of regrets blog launched in 2007 by Kevin Hansen now turned into a book “Secret Regrets”– where people anonymously list their regrets, a very sad and difficult read. All these entries turned into a book and have been featured in several online magazines and papers, and of course on Dr. Phil’s show! The book and blog were an overnight success and it’s no wonder, we all have regrets and we can all relate. The word “secret” adds to the rave. Peeking into people’s intimate lives and especially secrets is something we are attracted to.

But why the rave and the success of such a topic? Why are we attracted to other’s despair and grief? Perhaps because knowing others’ suffering,  makes us feel less unique? More normal? Shared pain is less, they say.

Is there a point to regret?

It is human to feel sorry for past mistakes, but should we live our lives chained to these thoughts? To guilt? I myself, after many years, have come to accept I can’t change the past even if I were given a second chance. I believe that What I did, I did with the information I had at the time and my circumstances, and that, I can’t change. We can only hope to reconcile ourselves with what we are not so proud of and move on. From that point on, start with a clean slate. Do the best we can.

How I let go of regret

I learned about the uselessness of regret from my grandma Catherine. When I was 17 I spent a year with her and she taught me how wasteful regret was. What is done is done and you can’t do anything about it. Say you are sorry, to yourself or others and turn the page. I always keep that in mind. Whenever I feel regret I immediately remember her words. I can’t change the past, I can only do better in the future. Mulling over the past is a terrible waste of time and energy.

How to get rid of “regret”

  • Stop in your tracks as soon as regret enters your mind. Don’t spend time there, dwelling on something you can no longer change.
  • Accept you acted with the information and experience you had back then.
  • Accept you had to go through whatever you had to, to learn your lesson.
  • Believe there are few mistakes, only outcomes you might like better or worse but they are only results.
  • Be compassionate towards yourself. Accept your own apologies and errors.
  • Don’t spend time on the re-run of the incident or situation. You will only feel worse.
  • Stop using the words: If only, If I had, or hadn’t…
  • Look forward and don’t spend too much time in the past. Acknowledge what happened and think about how you may do better in the future.
  • Forgive yourself, practice compassion towards yourself and the likelihood of  repeating the same stories will decrease.

Have no regrets, enjoy the present and look to the future. Yesterday is gone and you have a chance to start over every day. Our only regret should be missing out on the present moment.

2 thoughts on “Surviving regret

  1. Pingback: Surviving Regrets | Life - Senspirationals

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