The Weight of Regret
The longer you’re around, the greater the chance you’ll experience regret. For one person, it could be never having finished college, and for another, accumulating too many student loans. It could be never having pursued that dream to dance on Broadway or not having told a loved one how much they meant to you. Sadly, it may not be possible to avoid regret, but it is possible to liberate yourself from its heavy chains and walk the earth freer and wiser than before.
Those who live with regrets can take comfort in knowing that this is a common human emotion. There are even simple methods for preventing regret from overtaking your life. All it takes is a willingness to be honest and to practice reflection. By reflecting on the sources and causes of regret, you can, at the very least, strip it of its negative power and even transform it into something positive that will help you live a better life.
So, don’t shy away from your feelings of regret, embrace them! Here’s how:
Writing down thoughts in a private journal is a safe and therapeutic way to explore the causes of regret. Although it sounds negative, being honest with yourself, reflecting on your mistakes, and accepting responsibility for them can actually be a step in the right direction. Only by acknowledging errors and adjusting your priorities will you be able to move forward and make better decisions.
In every regret, there is a lesson, and it’s your job as a seeker to learn it. Ask yourself why you want to get over this regret. Is it negatively affecting your relationships, keeping you from achieving your goals, sapping your energy, disrupting your family life? Knowing why you want to rid yourself of a regret can be a motivating force. Start with positive affirmations that can morph into statements of manifestation, such as: “I want to get over this regret so that I can spend more time having fun with my friends and less time feeling guilty.” The Universe will support you once you declare your intentions.
Remember, while past mistakes can’t be altered, we can change your behavior in the present. If you regret not telling a loved one what they meant to you, start by changing that behavior today. Tell those you love how much you value them. Most of all, forgive yourself for the past and start living in the now. Remember, it’s possible to make peace with the past, but you have the power to change the future by your actions in the here and now. Don’t lose that chance by constantly looking backwards.
Give Yourself a Reality Check
Sometimes the source of our regret is rooted in the expectations we have of ourselves, as well as the expectations others have of us. While it’s good to set your sights high, it’s also important to be realistic and maintain a positive outlook on your life. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, review your performance, and instead of looking upon it with a critical eye, allow yourself to be proud of what you have achieved and where those achievements led you. Just because it’s not where you expected to be once upon a time does not mean that you have performed poorly.
Before tackling a major regret, start with a little one. Perhaps you regret never following through on lunch plans with a potential friend. Think about the circumstances (you were swamped that week). Consider whether or not it has any residual impact on the present (since then you’ve seen that person many times and the friendship has blossomed.) Many small regrets that weigh us down from day to day are pointless, just extra baggage that gets in the way of our development. It’s time to let it all go. Use this newfound perspective to help tackle some of the bigger regrets in your life.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Sometimes you just need to reach out to another person for help. There’s nothing wrong with this, so don’t be afraid to reach out to whoever you need to in order to shed those last vestiges of regret in your heart. Whether you just need to text a friend an apology, set up an appointment with a therapist, or speak to a psychic about a deeply buried regret, don’t hold back, even if you’re embarrassed. A few moments of discomfort are worth a lifetime of easy breathing and lighter shoulders.
To have regrets is a sign that you are human. You’re not going to get everything right all the time, and the beautiful thing is, that’s okay. Humanity is an imperfect thing, and everyone is learning right alongside you. As long as you don’t let your regrets consume you, if you instead embrace your regrets, work with, and learn from them, one day you’ll be able to say with all confidence, “I have no regrets.”
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