Regret is such a strong thing that can often rule our lives. It grabs at our emotions and our mind with a fiery grip. It plagues us with insecurities, worry and doubt. But more than that, it makes us afraid.
We begin to have this fear that we will regret the same thing twice. That comes in a lot of different forms. You might be afraid to trust someone again, you might be afraid that you’ll lose someone again or you might be afraid that an opportunity you had will never make its way back to you. Perhaps you made a financial mistake, or you missed a career advancement, maybe you wish a relationship would have ended better. No matter what it is, the fear of not getting to change those circumstances begins to control who you are and who you aspire to be. That is the hardest part of regret.
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.” – Fulton Oursler
I remember a time when I would live freely, trust openly and give all that I could give to the others around me because I believed I would be welcomed with good intentions. Everyone was granted a blank page in my book and there was nothing that would keep me from giving that to them. After all, there’s a little bit of good in everyone! I still believe that, but I find myself no longer giving someone that blank page. Instead I’m giving them the pen to write their own story, but I won’t give them the chance to stain the page in fear that it will bleed through too much. That it will ruin more than just that one page and even when I rip it out of my book it will have left its mark forever. Due to a recent heartbreak I now have this guard up. I can see how its changed me and how it dictates my life.
I am going to give advice on how to deal with regret and how to come to peace with yourself. Honestly, I am not completely there myself, but I suppose that is why I am writing this. I don’t have all of the answers, but I believe the answers I do have could still make an impression. Not just on my viewers, but myself as well.
- Identify your faults and weaknesses. The aftermath of regret is going to take a toll on your character. You need to come to an understanding of who you are now. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to be the same person as before. Those insecurities, doubts and worries I mentioned earlier? Don’t forget that it’s okay to feel those. For me, I am now very afraid of putting my guard down. I know that I shouldn’t automatically trust everyone but by no means should I decide to not trust anyone. My focus is working on having more confidence in others intentions going forward.
- Turn the experience into a strength. It may be hard, but think of a time before this one where you felt regret. Overcoming that obstacle made you stronger and it has helped you make better decisions since then. Sure, you might have gotten off track once or twice, but as humans we are nothing if not adaptable. I remember my first love and how toxic the relationship was to my well being, Since then, I have always used how that made me feel to determine if a new partner is going to bring me the happiness I want. Due to that experience I saved myself from having to experience much worse.
- Focus on what you can control. Let’s say you forgave someone a multitude of times for the same mistake. I’m sure you’ve played it over and over again in your head wishing that you would have taken action sooner. Stop. Thinking of what you could have done is no longer of value to you. You should focus more on the decisions you can make tomorrow that will keep you from experiencing this again.
- Accept that this was only one chapter of your life. People, moments and feelings are all fleeting. Enjoy living in the moment every now and again. While nobody wants a good thing to end, nothing is guaranteed – even if you make very few mistakes. Some things happen for a reason and sometimes the outcome is simply out of your control.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Time heals all wounds, but time is still passing us by as it does. Do we decide to let our regret keep us from experiencing a more promising future? Of course not. Choose to put your energy into the latter and take it one step at a time.