You lie down on your bed getting ready for sleep to knock you out. But without feeling it, your brain starts wandering to places in your life you choose not to visit…..your biggest regrets.
We choose to believe that most of the events that happen in our lives are because of the choices we made. Most of us choose how to pursue our life. We choose what to study, where to live, whether we want this or we want that, etc. The results of these choices make us either happy we made choice or simply regret them.
I am sorry, did I say simply? I meant arduously regret them.
Regret is a powerful emotion that takes away our present and future based on our past. The negative thoughts and feelings that one feels based on the memory of the thing they regret the most pulls them down preventing them to move on and live their present life.
Some regrets are modest. Those can be changeable and didn’t cause any serious irreversible damage in your life. Like regretting spending the night at home rather than going out with friends or regretting not having to answer back to someone who was mean to you.
On the other hand, there are regrets that haunt us throughout the rest of our lives because of the impact they left us with. What makes them worse is that we can never change them. For example:
- Breaking up/being dumped by your true love – you regret letting go of the love of your life telling yourself, “What if I did things differently? He/She will still be there in my life.”
- Spending your life worrying about what people say about you – you regret not living the life you wanted with liberty because you fear people’s judgment.
- Giving in to your parent’s control on your lifestyle – you regret listening to your parents and walking down the path they created for you rather than choosing what you wanted.
- Not being a better parent – you regret not teaching your kids discipline and letting them do what they want all the time that eventually led them to a negative path.
- Trusting the voice in your head – you regret agreeing to what you did when you should be disagreeing with it or vice-versa.
- Not getting a college degree – you regret not pursuing your education when you had the chance to do so.
- Neglecting your health – you regret not looking after your health when you should have.
- Not being in good terms with a loved one before they died – you regret casting a person out of your life over something not worth it and later knowing that they had passed away. Especially if they tried apologizing but you didn’t accept it when you had the chance.
Why do we regret and keep thinking about it?
There are many reasons why regret resides within us. But the main reason is, the pain we feel when regretting something makes us believe that we had a better option that we didn’t take. We could have made another choice when we had the chance to do so.
If we have a bad job, we regret not choosing that other job opportunity even if it was risky.
If we are unhappy in our marriage, we regret following our hearts and agreeing to marry our spouse even if everything was perfect in the beginning.
And many other similar regrets make us blame ourselves for the choices we made.
With such deep regret, we start doubting ourselves and our choices making us vulnerable to having low self-confidence.
We always regret the past choices that caused us the pain today even if they are unchangeable and out of our control. We conclude that since the path we chose is not the path that made us happy, our other option was ultimately the ideal one.
How to stop regretting?
Since the past is not something that we can change, we need to try and work on our present and future. The only way to do this is by getting through our feeling of regret.
I can’t tell you to completely stop regretting the choices you made because that is just impossible. We all make mistakes so we definitely regret making some of them.
There are incidents that happened in our lives that we regret letting them happen to us, so we can’t really block the negative emotion (regret). This is why I am asking you to learn how to work your way on getting through your regret rather than overcoming it.
You may ask me what is the difference between overcoming my regret and getting through it. Here’s the difference.
I honestly didn’t know the difference between the two before watching Jay Shetty’s video. But after doing so, it made complete sense to me.
In his video, Jay Shetty said something that is very interesting and important for you to understand. He said,
“Healing is not about getting over stuff, it is so much about getting through stuff.” – Jay ShettyTweet
He explained, “When you try to get over something, you don’t necessarily process the pain. You don’t necessarily give yourself the time, the energy, and the care to express how you felt and allow yourself an outlet to really let go.”
Listening to his words and processing them in my mind made me think about it. Why is it that people find it hard to get better and move on from the regret they feel?
Trying to overcome our regret is the very reason we are not able to get through it. This is way you have to learn to process and get through it.
Let us look at some ways to learn how to get over our regrets without harming ourselves.
Realize that you did the best you could
This sentence should be carved in your mind. The biggest problem is we fail to believe that we did the best we could when we were in control.
I want you to think about this…do you think you made the wrong choice DELIBERATELY to check if it works out?
I am asking you to ask yourself…Did I choose the wrong job because I wanted to have a horrible carrier? Did I choose my spouse because I wanted to have a suffocating marriage? Did I agree to go there knowing I will be in danger?
Think about those questions. I am sure your answers to all of them is..”No, I didn’t.”
So please, always remember that you did the best you could when you decided to choose your current path. Since the future was unknown, you can’t blame yourself for the fact that things didn’t go as planned.
Accept the reality you’re in right now
The best way to move on from any kind of weakness is to identify and address it.
Imagine you are in the middle of a dark place. What would you do? Will you just stay in your position crying for help? Or will you accept the fact that you are stuck and decide to keep walking until you find the light that will lead you to your freedom?
Accepting the pain of what happened to you is exactly the same thing.
When you accept what happened, you will look for ways to get through it. Taking responsibility for what happened in a positive manner will help you get through the pain of regret.
You just need to start believing that the mistake happened and there is no way we can go back and rewrite it. If you don’t, you will be stuck in the darkness and it may lead you to depression.
Are you wondering how you can work your way out of depression? Check out my blog post: Am I Depressed or Just Really Sad?
Stop trying to beat yourself up over incidents that are already in the past. Something you can not undo. Forget what is behind you and look ahead.
Accept that we are humans. Humans are imperfect and always prone to make mistakes. You have to stop blaming yourself for being human. Give yourself the mercy that you look forward to from others when you have wronged them unintentionally.
Tell yourself that mistakes, imperfections, and lack of better judgment are common and natural human traits.
By forgiving yourself, you are not negating what happened. You are just giving yourself the chance to live by learning from it.
Learn from your regrets
Realizing that you made a mistake is a blessing. It shows that your conscience is awake and that you are a good person.
Therefore, take the chance and focus on gratitude. Think of this as a hint to change yourself.
If you regret a situation you had no control over, try to look for a positive perspective of what happened.
I am sure that if you look harder into your situation, there will be something positive you are missing. Ask yourself, “How much worse could it have got?”
If you regret a situation that you had no control over, try to look for a positive perspective of what happened. I am sure if you look harder in your situation, there will be something positive you are missing. Ask yourself, “How much worse could it have got?”
If you regret a situation you had control over but made a mistake, take it as a learning opportunity. Everyone learns from their mistakes. You do the same.
Learning from your mistakes makes you do the opposite of what you regret. It gives you the strength to change things that can be controlled.
When bad things happen, it doesn’t mean it is your fault. Always remember that you wouldn’t have agreed to something knowing that it will turn out the way it did.
Regret will destroy you if you let it. So just learn to let go and work on getting through it.
Thank you for reading! 🙂
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If you happen to have any more tips on how to get through your regrets, do share them in the comments below!