- Go beyond denial. It's easy to get caught up in shoulda-woulda-couldas and lose ourselves in “if only” fantasies, but they do nothing for our current circumstances, make us feel worse, and almost certainly paralyze hope for the future.
- Separate regret's basic ingredients. All emotions stem from 4 sources: anger, sadness, happiness, and fear. Regret is a mixture of the first two... anger that XY&Z occurred, and sadness over what resulted. To overcome regret, we must confront, acknowledge, and work through both emotions.
- Grieve what is irrevocably lost. Crying is my release mechanism of choice... perhaps yours is exercising or writing in a journal. Regardless of the method, “letting it out” can ease your burden... it may take a few minutes, or for others, much longer. You'll know that your grieving process is complete when you can feel happiness for others who gain what you feel you've lost.
- Reclaim the essence of your dreams. Regardless of what you lost specifically (e.g., a man, a job, a house), ask yourself: What was it about XY&Z that I wanted so much? Then seek it in another source, productively. After some time, your initial desire may subside.
- Analyze your anger. Take a hard look at how anger may be affecting your daily life. If we're not careful, it may be taken out on others who do not deserve it. The next time anger surfaces, take a minute to assess its roots.
- Learn to lean loveward. As you make future decisions, lean toward love rather than aversion to fear. This works because we rarely regret decisions that are made out of love, but fear-based decisions will be regretted almost every time. This means that you will love again... only this time a little smarter. You will get your finances back in order... but watch your money far more closely the second time around. And your dreams are still attainable... but may be packaged differently than you expected.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
“I would rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
- Lucille Ball
Broken relationships. Poor financial decisions. Lost dreams.
We've all made choices, taken risks, and lived with the results when things didn't quite go our way. The list of regrets goes on and on, and can stifle our growth if we allow it. If regret is standing between you and what you want most from life, I bring you, “Six Steps to Regret-proof Your Life,” by Martha Beck, life coach and insightful writer whose advice is, as usual, spot-on.
We know for sure that the past cannot be changed. But we do have the power to overcome regret, and become stronger as a result. I firmly believe that all experiences – good and bad – have purpose, and can help us as we continue moving toward who we are meant to be. Overcoming regret is certainly a step in that right direction.
Your comments are welcome.