There are times in life when a “do-over” is not possible. But that doesn’t mean the end of everything.
When you feel sorry, sad, or disappointed over something you did, or didn’t do, you're probably experiencing regret. Regret can weigh you down and become such a focus in your life that you're unable to identify the many accomplishments you've achieved.
Although it's best not to experience regret, there may be times when it's unavoidable. Consider the following steps to deal with your regret and move on to live an unfettered life:
1. Acknowledge you feel sorry about what you did. Maybe you chose to do extra work on a project over spending time with your child. Recognize how you feel. Say, "I'm sorry for that" to the person you offended, or if the person isn't available, at least acknowledge to yourself that you're sorry about the way things went.
2. How can you make the situation better? In the above example, you can block out time to spend quality time with your child. However, other situations that bring on regret may not be so easily corrected, so do what you can to alleviate the issue.
3. What did you learn from the situation? You can gain back much of your emotional strength by completing this step. Allow yourself to think about the after-effects of your faulty decision and then consider what you can do differently in the future, should a similar situation arise. Noticing your new learning will help you feel less regret.
4. Apply new learning to your life now. The best way to combat regret is to live a life that you can be at peace with. When you're thoughtful about decisions, avoid acting impulsively, and say nothing (at least initially) when you feel upset, you'll begin to build a life that's more tranquil and satisfying.
5. Reflect on Lucille Ball's quote regarding regret. Ms. Ball once said, "I'd rather regret the things I've done than the things I haven't done." What point do you think she's making?
* One interpretation is that it's best to have regrets over making an effort at something and failing rather than not doing anything at all and remaining static. Maybe your reflections will move you forward to resolve your regret. You might even find something about your behavior that you can feel okay about.
6. Give yourself a break. It's true, you messed up. But you've gained a further understanding of the situation and done what you can to resolve it. Now it's time to forgive yourself.
7. Let go. There will come a time to sum it up, acknowledge what you did, and move on. Let go of the negativity to make room for more positivity in your life. You can experience a huge sigh of relief and embrace your life with renewal and hope. Things can be better now.
Dealing with regret could be one of the greatest life challenges you'll have to traverse. However, if you acknowledge you're sorry and ask what you can do to soothe the situation, you're well on your way to successfully managing your regret. Also, identify and apply lessons learned from the situation.
Find your own meaning to Lucille Ball's quote about regret. Give yourself a break. Finally, learn to release the negativity from the regret and move forward. Find the tranquil life you want by successfully dealing with your regret.
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