How to Cope with Regret
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When you take a look at your past, you probably have spent a lot of time feeling regret or shame. It is amazing how we can get so angry and offended when others hurt us, and we repeatedly choose to mentally rehash our lives to our own detriment.
More times than not, we have a feeling of implied judgement when we acknowledge personal weaknesses, as if the mistakes we made should have never happened. What you should do is accept the weakness and that everyone makes mistakes, then focus on what you can change going forward.
Regrets Are Unchangeable: Accept It
Regrets are simply inevitable, kind of like dying and paying taxes. Regardless of how much your decisions are planned, you will still feel regrets. In the back of your mind, you will think about how things could have been different, especially if the outcome of your choice was a disappointment.
People often feel that the grass could be greener on the other side. Regardless of the choices you have made and even if they were the best ones, sometimes the other choice may have been the better decision.
Between parenting regrets, career regrets, health regrets and relationship regrets, many of us get caught up in things we wish we hadn’t. Why? Because you had no choice, or because you never thought you would make those mistakes that brought you to your current outcome.
Sometimes, it’s non-action you have regret over and now it is too late to change. When you are weighted with regret, it is almost impossible to appreciate and enjoy the good things in your life at the present time, whether it be your health, your job or your spouse.
It is unhealthy for your mental well-being to have regrets.
Were you destined to make the decisions you have made and be on the course you are on today? You have to decide if you think everything happens for a reason or not. Regardless, there is no way do redo the past.
How to Let Go of Regret
There are, however, steps you can take to release your disappointment and stop ruminating so you can forget about the past. Regret shouldn’t put a burden on your present and future life.
You can effectively deal with regrets with these tips:
1. Acknowledge Your Faults
Your regret may be from something that wasn’t in your hands or something that you did. It is very important to accept responsibility when you made a bad decision. Ask what your motivation was and how you should change priorities the next time. It can be empowering to accept responsibility, but it will allow you to evaluate future decisions realistically.
2. Small Regrets Can Go First
There are some regrets that are more major that bother you the most. Try to make peace with the smaller regrets before making peace with the big ones. Maybe you blew off a friend’s party last minute because she wanted to hook you up with someone and you think, what if I could have met my soul mate?
It really isn’t a life-altering mistake, so let it go! You will be more motivated to do away with a major regret if you can get rid of a minor one.
3. Find Meaning
You need to find the lesson in your regrets. Think of it as a learning opportunity so you can find value in it. You need to think of the reason why you are letting a regret go. For instance, you might be letting it go because it is taking time away that you could be devoting towards your kids. You might feel ashamed of how your regret is hurting others around you. This will give you clarity on why you should let go of this regret from the past.
Mend your mistakes. For example, if you are regretting an abortion, volunteer at a center for women to help other women who are in the same boat. You can use the lesson you learned to help others.
4. Your Expectations Should Be Realistic
If your expectations are not realistic, you should modify them. If they aren’t realistic, you may discover the reason for the outcome in the first place.
Set High Expectations
As long as they don’t become impractical to the point it is inevitable, set your expectations high. You will most likely not escape future regrets in life, but you can learn how to minimize the influences that cause your regrets. You will be a happier person, as well as you loved ones who suffered from your regrets, as well.