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I wrote a post a while ago, where I had put that I try to never think of anything as a regret. A lovely lady commented that she wished that she could think that way. We ended up having an email conversation about this for a couple of weeks, and it led me to thinking, do you count things as lessons or regret? Pull up a pew, its cuppa and a chat time…..
There is a saying,
Never Regret Anything, At One Time It Was Exactly What You Chose
I tend to agree with this. If I look back over my 44 years, trust me, I could write you a list of a million things that I got wrong, and that I could sit and regret. Is there any benefit to that? Does it change anything? Will it undo any of the things that I could have regret over? Nope. It dosent change a thing.
When I was young, I had a wild streak that meant I was impulsive, I did first, thought later. I was reckless, taking chances with myself, my health, my safety. I got into debt with irresponsible spending, finding myself overdrawn or with a credit card balance. I had that thinking that young people often have, I was indestructible and, whatever I got myself into, it would always work out. I got myself into situations that could have changed the course of my life, that in some cases did change the course of my life, but, do I have any regrets? Not one. All those things taught me something, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but all bound together and made me the person I am now.
My feelings on regret, is that it is a very destructive thought process. If you think about it, when someone offends or hurts us, we feel angry, yet often forgive easily if asked of us. If we have regrets, I feel that we are repeatedly torturing ourself, far worse than the incident did, by the constant mental re-hashing. Why do we do that to ourselves? Do you do that?
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Lets think about what regret is. Its basically, our wish to get a re-run, a chance to have another bash at whatever. Something didn’t work out the way you thought it would, or you didn’t do something the way you wished you would have. Your mind takes you over and over it, replaying the scenario over in your head, trapping you in a woulda/coulda/shoulda head space. Its torture.
Also, regret always comes after the incident. At the time, something happens and you deal with it. You make a choice, or have a reaction, and act on it. So, when regret creeps in like the little troll it is, you are thinking about the situation that has passed and that you have regret over, with the mindset of now, the present. Its a totally different viewpoint. You will probably have a better clarity and awareness of the situation now, that you didn’t have then. As they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing! Am I making sense?
So, you sit there, chewing it over with your friends, or your family, and you beat yourself over the head. Sound familiar? You tell yourself you should have said this, done that, not lost your temper……….. You want to go back, change the way it played out. Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unless you have Dr Who on speed dial, you cant go back. Its done. The key now is to not let it become a festering ball of regret, sitting there ready to mock you as and when it feels the need. You have to deal with your shiz!
In my experience, (and this is only my experience, Im no mental health Doctor), the first thing you have to do is accept. You have to take responsibility for what happened, and accept that at the time, that was your best way, and conscious decision of dealing with it. Even if what went on is not your fault, you acted/reacted a certain way and that is on you.
The second thing is to look at it with a clear head and see where there were lessons to be learnt. Work out why you acted the way you did. Try to think how you would handle it differently next time. Really pull apart your soul to see what the real issue is. Did you turn down that job offer because your fear/lack of confidence made you feel you wasn’t up to the job? Did you get so angry because what the other person was saying was a truth you didn’t want to hear? Did you break up with your partner because you thought the grass was greener? Whatever your scenario, there will be a lesson to learn, I would put money on it. Work out what it is, and that niggle of regret will disappear and be replaced with experience.
I would also say that if there is an action to be taken, then don’t put it off! If you need to make an apology, do it. If that bank statement needs opening, open it! Don’t put off the action you need to take, if something is fixable. If you do, it will become the troll, regret. One of these actions that you need to take, and in some ways the most important one, is to forgive yourself. We are human, we muck up. We don’t always get it right. As long as we learn the lesson that is most definitely there, then we are moving forward. The incident has taught us something and that can only be a good thing.