Overpower Your Regrets
If we’ve lived, we have regrets.
But sometimes those regrets can be overwhelming weights to carry. They can pray on our waking mind, and even give us nightmares as we sleep.
Regrets can hold us back, and keep us stuck in a rut.
If left unaddressed, they can eat at us slowly from the inside.
As a society, we don’t talk about them. We hide them away, like dirty laundry pushed under the bed.
Facing them head-on can lead to self-forgiveness, or even moments of light to lead us forward.
Clean that laundry!
You might regret...
What you did.
Because you were heartless. Because your head was elsewhere. Because you were drunk. Perhaps because it was exactly what you wanted at the time.
What you didn’t do.
Because you were scared. Because you missed the chance. Because your priorities were different. Because of something else equally as important.
What you could have done.
Often it is these regrets which linger the longest - recurring, nagging thoughts of how your life or career would have been different if you had taken another road.
Giving up on something, which could have been great!
Spending too long on a project, or a part of your life (like a relationship) that led to a dead end or a crash. The time you lost. And all those opportunities you passed up because you were intent on keeping going.
Face your regrets
I know I have all those types of regrets, in some form or other. Yet, there are ways not to let them take over.
You can take positives from the regrets - they are often life’s lessons (horrible lessons as they may be). Use them to propel you forward.
There are no regrets in life, just lessons - Jennifer Aniston
Then we must tidy those regrets away in a special regret cabinet. This allows us to live positive, forward-looking, functioning, and socially-interactive lives.
In other words, take what you need to learn from that regret, and store it away.
Consider these techniques and ideas to help you address the regrets in your life.
Accepting is the first step.
This can be tough. But we have to accept that it happened (or it didn’t happen). What is in the past is decided. We cannot affect it. We cannot change it.
We must accept it.
From this point, we are able to move forward. It can help us find some kind of enlightenment - that memory is now part of who you are, and it makes you unique. It is a strength, if you focus on what you’ve learned, and accept it’s all part of the tapestry of life.
Accept that life has sadness, and life has pain. If it didn’t, then how would we know when we have happiness and joy?
We’ve had heartaches that hurt bad
But no, I won’t turn the clock back
‘Cause one day we’ll know it’s a part of the plan
- Kshmr & Yves V
A daily meditation practice is one of the secrets to happiness.
Getting up a little earlier and focusing the mind away from the stresses of life, the family, the daily grind of work… letting all those things go will boost your awareness and compassion.
You can focus your meditation on self-compassion and forgiveness. This helps leave the actions or inactions of your past behind, and find peace with yourself and who you are today.
By taking life’s regrets and learning from them, you can become a better, and even more successful, person.
Sometimes the things that you regret are the most valuable lessons that you will have in your life. They can change you.
Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets - Arthur Miller
If you resolve not to repeat something you’ve done, great, you’ve learned. You can go forward into the future determined that, if there is next time, it doesn’t matter. It will be another experience to influence your life for the better.
Perhaps that thing you regret was the life event you needed to learn from, to achieve something great. When you think of the regret, smile, and say thank you for teaching me.
If something is digging away at you, you can try to make amends.
If you have hurt somebody, and they are still alive, contact them.
You can also make amends symbolically - by giving to a charity, volunteering, or deciding to act in the future in a way that helps people.
The ‘how?’ is something only you can think about. Because all our regrets are unique, the way we make amends is also unique. However, the essence of making amends is using the negative memory you have to create a feeling of closure and, potentially, happiness.
Taking on new projects
Regrets can cause some people to stop living their life. As the regrets eat away, it grows more and more difficult to motivate yourself. It develops into a vicious circle.
Taking on new projects in your life will give you purpose.
It could be a business venture, volunteering, even learning a musical instrument or a language.
Do something which gives you happiness. Set yourself goals and make them big.
Regrets - I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
- Frank Sinatra
Tell people about the challenges you have set yourself, and try to find groups that you can go forward with. Social interaction and friendships are a superdrug that will help lift you up.
Sense of humor
It’s easy to say ‘have a sense of humor,’ but much tougher to carry out. Depression caused by regrets can be debilitating.
Laughter is the best medicine, as they say. Watching funny programs, reading fun books, joking with your friends - it can all help.
Sometimes we can look back at what happened and the disasters which befell us and have a good laugh. Very often those same regrets would seem very funny if they happened to somebody in a comedy movie.
And remember - usually those movies somehow have a happy ending, despite all the twists and turns on the road. Time to find yours.
It’s tough to talk about regrets.
By their very nature, they are not nice memories.
Nevertheless, getting things off your shoulder can bring you relief, and peace. The people who are closest to you will often be happy to listen.
If you don’t have a close friend or a family member who you trust as a comfort blanket, then that’s what shrinks are for. Contact a mental health expert and ask for somebody to talk to.
You can also talk to somebody who you regret offending or harming. This is a more delicate situation, but it may go a little way toward making amends, and you might even find that you didn’t hurt them as badly as you thought.
This is the big, secret, get-over-regrets, magic pill.
Mindfulness is a way to live your life, focusing on the present moment. It is about accepting that the past and the future only exist in our minds. The one thing we know is true, and can influence, is the here and the now.
If you aren’t in the moment you are either looking forward with anxiety, or back with pain and regret - Jim Carrey
If you can carry out your day in mindfulness, you will find that much of the anxieties that bog us down will disappear. The amazingness of your every waking moment is suddenly brought into sharp perspective.
As we clean the dishes, we can be there in the moment. We are cleaning the dishes, not stressing or worrying about things in our heads. Brushing our teeth, driving the car during rush hour, sitting at work… they all suddenly become part of the joy of life and living.
When we enter the present moment deeply, we discover that our regrets and sorrows disappear, and we discover life with all its wonders - Tich Nhat Hanh
Those things you regret - they have no power over the present moment. You are here, and now, and you are living and breathing.
Physically and mentally. As our bodies continually regenerate, what actually makes us us? The way your mind was wired ten or twenty years ago is not the same as it is now.
I know many of the things I regret I wouldn’t do now. In every way I look at it, that was a different person.
If you can accept change, you can be reborn as a new you in every moment of the day. The things you regret can no longer control you. What’s more is that you have the power to start anew whensoever you want.
Whatever has happened to you in your past has no power over this present moment, because life is now - Oprah Winfrey
All things around us are constantly changing. The flower grows and dies. The building you are in is slowly deteriorating. Even mountains change over the course of the millennia.
Eventually, we will die and change again. The things we find so important are not as important as we think.
As Shakespeare wrote, “A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king.” How significant are Your Majesty’s worries at that point?
Our lives are short, embrace their changing nature, and live each day as if it were your first and last.
With or without regrets
You might decide to live with your regrets, come to terms, and learn from them. You might decide that your regrets are no longer worth regretting, and live by the no regrets motto.
Non, je ne regrette rien
- Edith Piaf
Everybody is different and must follow their own path. Find something that works for you, and your life.
Please leave a comment, and I hope that these ideas help to guide you, to overcome sorrows and regrets, or even help you guide others who are going through tough times.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for upcoming posts.
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