How to deal with regret?

Growing up I loved the idea of time travel. One of my favourite films was back to the future. I loved the idea of going into the past with a knowledge of the consequence of decisions. And going into the future to see what’s going to happen so you can know how to live your life to get the best results. Life would be so much easier if we had a doc in our lives crazy enough to try! Unfortunately we don’t and in life our only real way of time travel is vision (looking forward) and hindsight (looking back). Looking back at what we should have done or could have done. Looking back at what we got wrong and what we didn’t realise or see at the time. Failure is a great but painful teacher. It reminds us of our humanity and causes us to face our weaknesses within ourselves. Sometimes our failure is to do with our pride, our bad decision making or even a flaw in our character. Whatever the reason, regret follows closely after failure and mistakes. Regret is the master of the past. It seeks to keep you there by magnifying and highlighting your failure and mistakes. It’s desire is to keep you stuck. It gains power from you constantly reliving where you went wrong, the damage and the pain. It leads you down a path called what if this never happened and flaunts an unattainable future. It’s desire is to disable your capacity from ever being fulfilled and it uses people and their voices to hold you to the failures and mistakes you made.

So how do you break free of regret? How do you move forward? Here are a 7 steps to help.

1. Remorse > Regret

Remorse is the mature brother of regret. It is about admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions. It allows you to have a sense of guilt and sorrow for hurting someone else and allows you to confess and truly apologise. A remorseful person avoids hurtful actions towards others in the future. A regretful person avoids punishment.

2. Accept it.

Accept what happened. Accept what you did. Accept the fallout. Accept the pain. Face it. It is what it is. Hiding won’t change it. It won’t disappear because you cannot see it. Accept what went wrong or where you went wrong. It’s not good and it is not bad, it is what is.

3. Take responsibility

Take responsibility for your part. For what you did. Taking responsibility is not taking it all, but it is taking all you did and being responsible for it. You can’t take responsibility for other people’s opinions, emotions or even pain, as much as you might want to or feel you should. You can only be responsible for your role and your mistakes/failure. You don’t get to choose how people react or respond to your mistakes or failures, but you do get to choose how you react to what you have done and what you regret.

4. Make peace

Make peace with yourself. Give yourself grace. For people who treat you differently, or people who hurt or offend you. For people who are hurt by your actions, you must make peace within yourself so all you have for those people is love.

5. Forgive

Forgive yourself. You have to. You are allowed to. Forgive people who have let you down. Forgive people who have walked out on you. Forgive people who should have been there. Forgive those who hurt you. Forgive those who spoke bad about you. Hurt people hurt people. Forgiven people, forgive people. Sometimes we cannot forgive others because we have never been able to forgive ourselves. Forgive! And do it quickly. Forgiveness can not be rationalised enough to be acceptable to your pain. It can only be lived out. It is the annoying riddle or maths problem that in the midst of it is terribly hard to work out but when explained to you, you feel silly for not seeing the answer to your freedom yourself.

6. Identify

Identify what went wrong, work out why you messed up. Study it until you are clear. Then put people and things in place in your life so that it can’t happen again. You can’t change what has happened, but you can choose what happens next. “A regret is simply a mistake we haven’t the learned the proper lesson from yet.” – Mark Manson.

7. Move on.

Learn from the past, but do not let it dictate the present or your future. Make the best and the most out of what is now and next. The best is still ahead of you. The best is still yet to come. But you have to believe it.

One of the greatest reasons why people stay stuck in a chapter in their lives is because of limiting core beliefs. Things that they have believed for years because of the emotional imprint of their childhood or traumatic experiences. To move on we have to replace our negative limiting beliefs with new positive beliefs about ourselves.

The book of Proverbs, famous for its wise sayings states, “as a man thinks, so is he.”

This means that whatever I think about myself will be what I live out about myself and who I become. Why is this important? Because a belief is a thought that you repeated to yourself over and over and then believed it to be true.

So how do we change our beliefs? We change our thinking. If we change our thinking, we change what we believe, if we change what we believe, we change our actions, if we change our actions, we change our habits, if we change our habits, we change our lives.

We all have a vision of the person we want to be and things we want to achieve. We rarely realise that the person we are now will not and cannot be the person that experiences the fulfilment of those visions. There is hills and valleys on the way, victories and failures, pain and progress. We will constantly be faced with things we shouldn’t have done or could have done better. Learning to not live in the pain and regret of life is so important for us to become the best version of ourselves possible, because the best version of ourselves doesn’t live here now, but is in the future. If we are to die empty and fulfil the purpose in our lives, we have to deal with regret and do it quickly.

Love, peace and chicken wings


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