It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing regret. Maybe a disappointment, a missed opportunity or a perceived mistake. Perhaps you did or said something awful and feel guilty about it, or you were on the receiving end of bad treatment. Regret will do it’s utmost to hold you firmly in place. It will show no mercy or remorse and will eat away at your happiness, motivation and emotional state of mind.
Regret demonstrates that you care, which is a good thing. However, if you don’t know how to recognise regret and learn how to deal with it, you may find it becomes the dominating force in your daily life. That nagging, negative voice in your head is stopping you from moving forward. It’s damaging your relationships, your career, your health and your future happiness. Imagine how you would feel if that was gone. If you could put aside what happened and move on with your life.
Here are 5 simple tips to help you deal with regret:
1. Identify it. Work out what your regrets are and how they make you feel. List the regrets and the questions you keep asking yourself. Go though the list and change the “why” questions to “what next?”. For example, change “why did I say those hurtful things?” to “can I do anything to make this right?”. This will help you overcome the feeling of being stuck.
2. Make things right. Recognise that no-one is perfect or always right and that we as human beings make mistakes every single day. It’s possible that your regret is something that can be fixed. It’s never too late to apologise if you did something wrong. Do what you can to make things right. If those you’ve hurt don’t accept your apology, remind yourself you tried and move on.
3. Move on. The mistakes are real, they’ve happened. At some point you have to accept that it’s time to let them go. If you wrote a list of your regrets then now is the time to tear it up and put it in the bin. This gives the feeling that you’ve taken them out of your mind and thrown them away, forever.
4. Self forgiveness. Regret can cause resentment, not only to others but also towards yourself. Learn to forgive yourself for the things you regret doing or saying. Show yourself the same kindness you would want others to show you if you wronged them.
5. Learn from it. Don’t let your regrets dictate your future. Learn from them. Replace the words “if only” with “next time”. This will help you push aside the regret, move forward and take action. It will make you think about how to cope in a difficult situation and focus your thoughts on the future, instead of the past.
Understanding that having regrets is a natural emotion will help you have a better chance of moving forward in life. Recognise that every single human being will do things that they regret, so try not to dwell or linger on the negative aspect of what has happened. It’s simply wasting precious time. Use it to focus on a more positive future.
Make the Change