Most of us have some regrets. Maybe you did something that you wish you didn’t do. Or you spent years involved with the wrong person. Or you didn’t go after a job you wish you had. And a million other things. Like guilt, regrets are like rust on your soul in that they eat away at your contentment. And they keep you looking back when you should be focusing on right now. The things you regret belong in the past—when they happened.
Since you can’t change past action, regret serves no purpose but to corrode your life with thoughts of what it would be like had you not done or said what you did. Having regrets can make you beat yourself up unnecessarily, feel depressed, and not appreciate what you have now. In order to let go of any regrets you may have:
• Acknowledge what you did and that you were trying your best.
• Remind yourself that it’s over and that there’s probably nothing you can do to change it. If you said or did something to someone that caused a rift, decide if you want to try to mend the fence now.
• Talk it out with a good friend or a spiritual adviser to help you get a fair perspective.
• Apologize out loud for doing it and then forgive yourself. We all make mistakes and just as you’d forgive a friend who apologized, give yourself the same courtesy.
• Write down everything you feel about it, read it aloud, burn the paper, say “It’s over,” and let it go.
Look back to find the blessings in your regrets. What good did you get from the person you stayed with for too long? People ask if I regret getting married at twenty when I wasn’t ready for it. It would be easy to say yes, since I lost many years yearning for a different life. But I wouldn’t be who I am today without the growth those years gave me. And I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter had I not married then. I have a better friendship with my ex now that we’ve both grown up
Anne Bradstreet said, “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
Had I not been a DoorMat I wouldn’t appreciate the life I have now nearly as much as if I’d gotten it earlier. And I love myself so much now because I’m so grateful to have found me. Look for the lessons in the things you regret and appreciate them. If you regret leaving a romantic partner because of differences in race, religion, etc., the good you enjoyed is a blessing. And it may have taught you what’s important in someone you get involved with in the future.
There’s something good in every regret if you look! Then focus on any blessing that you find instead of letting regrets make you feel bad. Love yourself enough not to hurt your soul with regrets. Appreciate that what you don’t like helps you appreciate the good. And accept it’s over so you can move on. Remember this:
“Life is too ironic to fully understand. It takes sadness to know what happiness is.
Noise to appreciate silence. And absence to value presence.” Unknown
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