Life is not always a fairytale journey, sometimes there are moments when we sink into some dark places. We need to accept and understand that all human beings make mistakes which often leads to regret, but what’s important is that we learn from those mistakes and forgive ourselves. Only then can we move on from our past regrets and guilt to a better life filled with positivity. Regret is a passive emotional reaction to bad decisions and it can leave a very negative impact on any individual and when that happens our mind gets filled with lots of negativity.
The guilt of how things could have turned out if we didn’t make the mistakes we did. It can also have a major influence on our day to day decision making. At times like these, we rethink everything and dwell in the past when deep down we know that wouldn’t change things. It almost feels like we are punishing ourselves for the mistakes we made. Dwelling in the past can be painful and it doesn’t help us gain anything but leaves us with a feeling of remorse and sorrow to a great extent.
It is all up to you if you want to leave your painful past full of regrets behind and want to move on to a bright and beautiful future.
A psychological study has revealed that education, career, romance, parenting, self, and leisure are the subjects that trigger regret in 97% of the people. The future is scary because the unknown lies ahead, but that does not mean we should run back to the past.
There is not a single human being who has not made a mistake that they don’t regret. That’s just part of being human. We make mistakes, we learn the lesson, we move on. That is a positive cycle of life. But life doesn’t always go as we plan it and sometimes when we make a mistake, we feel terrible about it, think about what could have been if our actions were different and we unconsciously trap ourselves in an endless loop of regret and torture.
The real question is do you want to linger into your past full of regret or do you want to deal with it and finally move on?
Author and motivational coach Marsha Petrie Sue said, “Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be”.
Take a step forward and learn how to deal with regret to conclude this endless loop of pain with the following –
1. Accept the fact that regret is a universal emotion
The first step towards a positive life after a deep feeling of regret is to accept yourself and to accept the fact that every human has at some point made a mistake in their life that they regret. They might not say so, because people have a tendency of not revealing their deepest guilt and failures but there is invisible baggage that every person carries which they do not like to talk about. It is okay to make mistakes and feel sorry but shutting down all emotions and punishing yourself by dwelling in regrets of the past is not okay at all.
2. Be kind to yourself
When we make a mistake that we deeply regret, we are often quite harsh to ourselves than we like to admit. This can cause resentment towards ourselves and others. However, when a friend or family member makes the same mistake we overlook them and try to make them feel better. For instance, when an office colleague messes up their presentation, we help them with it and tell them how it would go better the next time, but when we do the same thing we blame ourselves for weeks over it. This will only bring in more pain which is why we should be kind to ourselves and practice self-forgiveness. Doing so will lead to more positivity in life and also improve your self-esteem.
3. Take time to heal
Long-lasting regret can have more impact on us than we realize. It can be extremely painful for some people to deal with it so taking time to heal from those invisible wounds is a very important step. Shutting your feelings down is not the solution, nor is pushing yourself to forget it. Give yourself some time to absorb it or you can also try allowing your emotions to naturally work themselves out. There is no set timeline for when it goes away so allow yourself to heal. Pushing yourself to make your regrets go away will only make it worse.
4. Learning from past mistakes
There is no guarantee that you would not be making the same mistakes you made in the past. You might again, and again and again, and that’s okay too. What’s important is you learn from it and grow as a person. Even if we don’t want to, we very often fall into the trap of common self-sabotaging patterns. For instance, the consumption of drugs and alcohol can leave a feeling of regret on a huge number of people. They are aware of this self-destructive behavior but continue to do and more often than not make resolutions to never do that again. Instead of following this toxic pattern, accept that you need help and strategies for improving your habits or limiting the negative consequences. Practice self-control and make better future choices.
5. Seek professional help
Guilt and regret can lead to depression which can have severe impacts on our mental health. It can cause self-doubt, decreased self-esteem, and shame and it is very difficult to overcome these feelings, especially in the case of chronic guilt. People very often do not feel comfortable speaking to a counselor but please know that there is no shame in it and if you are struggling with any such feelings seek the help of a qualified counselor who can help you get to the root of these feelings.