We all have them, every single one of us stupid apes currently roaming this planet have regrets. You might meet people who say they don’t, who claim to have never made a single mistake in their lives and regret none of the choices or actions they have made, but…
Seriously, they are. If you can categorically say, no matter how old you are, that you don’t have a single regret: you are a liar!
So think about it for a second, all those milliseconds in your life when you had to make a choice on the spot – can you seriously tell me you ALWAYS made the right choice? There are so many pedantic little things in my life that I regret that some are actually quite funny!
…dropping and breaking my mobile phone.
…eating a rather large quantity of garlic once which made me sick.
…not seizing the opportunity to karaoke Hit me baby…one more time with the undisputed queen of karaoke!
And then there are the bigger regrets:
…not realising Rachel was having problems and helping her.
…the first time I started self harming as it kicked off the addiction.
…making a decision whilst depressed. I should have known not to make an important decision in that state
…not taking a trip to a Scottish Island in June 2002.
What defines us is our ability to realise our regrets, admit to having made them, and not repeating those mistakes in the future. I have always tried and attempted to do this, some times I have been successful, others not so. But again, this is one of the defining characteristics of humanity – we frack up, sometimes more than once, and we all do it.
What defines us is out ability to forgive ourselves for our regrets and overcome them. Forgiveness is an act of contrition, you don’t give it because someone deserves it you give it because they need it. This is true for ourselves; we must be able to forgive our own mistakes.
It’s easier said than done. A regret can be a powerful thing, the longer you go without forgiving yourself, the more your soul will be destroyed. A regret can interfere with your motivation, your future, your present happiness…regrets are perhaps the powerful of annoying critters on the planet!
So let’s have a look at some of the things you can do to help tame those regrets and forgive your inner self in the way that you so rightly deserve.
Steps you can take to overcome regret are:
- Determine what the regret actually is. Before you can overcome a regret you have to actually know exactly what it is.
Hold on! Let’s use me as an example! We’ll work through the steps with me as a Guinea Pig (and I reckon I’d make a pretty cute Guinea Pig!)
I have stated at various points in this blog that I have three absolutely why the frack did I do/not do that? regrets…and here they (drumroll please) are:
i) Whilst at school I didn’t say one sentence to once person. (I did talk about this one in my post on Social Anxiety Disorder, as it was one of the catalysts of me developing this condition)
ii) On one occasion 90% of me disbelieved something someone told me, the other 10% was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. I listened to the 10% – something which I have always regretted.
iii) Is a little more complicated, but is basically guilt/regret over allowing the emotional abuse I was the victim of to take place.
So now you have identified your regrets, what next?
- Don’t blame others. Don’t blame yourself. Accept what has happened. Blame will only cause anger, anger will fester and this will create even more complications for all concerned.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Regrets can create all sorts of emotions of which grief is only one, and like with all feelings of grief you must allow yourself to feel this emotion. Denying it will be denying yourself an important emotion and make the path to forgiveness harder.
- Instead of thinking about what you have lost or the pain you caused from the regret, think about what you have learned or gained from this experience. Turn it into a positive; life’s lessons come in all shapes, forms, sizes and guises. Sadness, loss, despair, love, mania, ecstatic moments of bliss all contain important life lessons.
- If your regret involves having hurt other people, seek forgiveness. Apologise for what you have done and explain your actions. This forgiveness may not be awarded easily, so you will need to make amends with this person in order to show them you are sorry for what has happened. If the regret involves yourself, you must find a way to make amends internally in order to achieve the forgiveness you need.
And some tips which may help you accomplish these steps:
- Write about your regrets. Scraps of paper, envelopes, letters you’ll never send, journals. Writing about your regrets can help you identify exactly what they are and what they have caused to happen in your/other people’s lives.
- Use visualisation techniques to picture yourself acting differently in the future.
- Talk to trusted friends who won’t judge you.
- Seek out help through counsellors, psychologists, support groups. Regret, as mentioned above, can become guilt which may need professional help to overcome.
- Perspective people! Everything – and I mean everything in life – is forgivable! Nothing is ever so bad that it cannot be forgiven – even if it may seem not to be.
- And as I stated above – YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We have all made mistakes in life so think about all the things other people have done wrong and realise what you’ve done, is nothing compared to the skeletons and actions some people hide in their underwear drawers!
So with my regrets in mind:
1. The only person I have to blame is myself. This blame became anger which I directed at myself, which initiated the self-harm and social anxiety which later led to severe depression. So yeah, never hold on to blame or anger!
2) I did grieve for this regret after I stopped being angry with myself for it. With everything that was going on in my life, this took many years, and after the grief subsided I felt better able to deal with how not to allow it to happen in the future…
3) …so learned from this experience and realised that if the situation ever arose again I would do everything in my power to not take the same path (not easy for someone with social anxiety disorder)…
4) …thus when the situation arose again on the Isle of Mull with a woman I desperately wanted to get to know better I asked her out. Granted she stood me up, but hey, that be life! I made amends with myself by not allowing the same regret to resurface again.
1) …and once again the only person I have to blame is myself! And once again the blame became anger which I directed at myself (but not in a self harm way) and I am currently trying to work through this anger now. I’ve written about it a lot, including an unsent letter I would love to send but can’t.
2) I am in the grieving process at the moment for this regret, it’s mixed with self anger, but the grieving process is underway and has been for some time.
3) I’ve learned from this regret…I know to follow my gut instinct with what people are telling me especially in regards to the issue that this instinct was about. I have talked about it on this blog on several occasions and am using my regret in this instance to try and help other people.
4) As the person in question is no longer part of my life I cannot seek forgiveness from them, and I am finding it hard to forgive myself for this regret because of what could have happened as a result of acting differently. I’m working on it and will keep you posted :)
Is the complicated one! The problem with abuse is that the victim is often “blamed” by the abuser for what is actually happening as they do not want to take responsibility for the actions. I am aware of the mistakes I made in the relationship so have allowed myself to feel responsible for the abuse which I was given as if it were somehow “deserved”. This is a common problem for survivors of abuse in any form, and thus where the professional help can come in. Even though I know I didn’t deserve the level of treatment I was subjected to and I am not to blame for the abuse I suffered because I feel on some level it was deserved punishment, I do not know how to combat this particular regret in my life. I am trying to by educating others on what emotional abuse is in the hope it will prevent other people from being in the situation I am currently in.
Regrets are tricky things.
They eat away inside you and it is important not to dwell on them for years on end as this could cause irreparable damage and could lead to: severe depression, self harm or suicidal thoughts. Which if you already suffer from any/all of these is a pretty nasty situation to find yourself in, let me tell you!
If you know garlic is gonna make you sick – don’t eat it!
If you have the chance to go to a Scottish island – seize it!
If you get the chance to duet a Britney number – go shake your sexy butt!
Always learn from regrets and don’t allow yourself to repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again! Learn from them, live from them, grow from them…and forgive other people’s mistakes and regrets, else how can you expect them to forgive you for yours?