I think it’s fair to say that we can all at times wish that we had done certain things differently but living with regrets is not the same. Real regrets can affect us in a very negative way as we churn over the chances that we wish we had taken and feel have now passed us by, or the things that we did that we believe were mistakes.
Regrets are often translated into emotions like deep sadness, remorse or disappointment. They leave us with an impression that our life would somehow have been better, if we had chosen a different path.
It is important to understand why there is a regret in the first place. Decisions are made at a time and a place, where we may have limited information available to us, so you need to remember what the circumstances were at the time, and ascertain exactly why you went the way you did. What were the reasons that prevented you from doing or not doing something? Why did you decide what you did? How was it the best outcome possible and why did you feel there was no other way? Sometimes, regrets can also come from times of limbo, where we don’t make a decision at all, which actually becomes a decision through the lack of decisiveness.
Regrets often carry a negative emotional reaction, because you wouldn’t revisit and think about the situation if you were happy about the choice that you had made. Unfortunately, we cannot change the past. However, there is something that we can do to make it better, and it is to understand and change ourselves. Wishing a situation was different or that you had acted differently, feeling that it’s all unfair, will not help you (or anyone else for that matter). This is why it’s important to understand and genuinely accept that things happen (or don’t happen) for a reason.
In order to move on, the only thing you can do is to let it go…which is actually far easier said than done. But the reason why it is difficult to do is because we don’t go about it the right way. We start to imagine what life would have been like if we had chosen the different path. What we don’t do but should do instead, is to look at what we need to learn. The very definition of a mistake is that it is ‘an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong’. As we all have our own definition of what is right and wrong, or what being misguided represents, there is no such thing as making a mistake. What really happens is that we have experiences and need to learn the lessons that present themselves as a result.
Regrets indicate that we aren’t happy about something in the now. Instead of beating ourselves up, we need to take action and make it right. To do so, we need to understand what we were supposed to learn from the situation. Once we have that information, we can start to move forward and towards correcting the state of affairs. After all, the reason why a regret is a regret is because we didn’t get the outcome we wanted. The only thing we can do now to get what we need and stop carrying our dissatisfaction around with us, is to do something about it. So how about you start now?