We all have our regrets. Although we shouldn’t live a life full of regrets, it can be quite liberating to deal candidly with your regrets. You may have invested greatly in people who have evinced that they were not worthy of your time, but the time you devoted to them speaks volumes about your character. Even though those individuals may now be your enemies, learn to appreciate the lessons you’ve learned from your interactions with those who have proved themselves to lack gratitude. Don’t allow your life to become consumed by focusing on regrets; instead, take the necessary time to think critically about the things you regret.
Too often people are afraid to confront challenges in their lives that make them uncomfortable. Although many would have you to believe that you need to do whatever it takes to make you feel comfortable, it’s beneficial to have a constant healthy level of discomfort present. Discomfort unveils to us that we’re human. If you’re always avoiding phenomena that cause discomfort, then you’re trying to remove yourself from experiencing inexorable dimensions of the human condition. You’re going to have to recognize that staying away from discomfort is going to limit your progression significantly. Ultimately, you will discover your most impactful regret is failing to assess the emotional and physical toll of your regrets.
Forgiving yourself and the people who have hurt you are essential to experiencing true progress. The regrets you have about past and present relationships and decisions you’ve made have to be placed in the proper context: you and others are human. Every human being has made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. When you don’t forgive yourself and others for mistakes, then the weight of those mistakes hold you down, stifling any chance of you moving forward in life. A failure to forgive yourself and others results in bitterness, even if you don’t recognize it. You have to resolve whether you’re going to allow your own mistakes and those of others to defeat you.
Be open to a new beginning with yourself and others.
It’s important for you to realize you’re not the only one who has regrets. Spend some time talking to others about their regrets and how they process them. The discourses you have with them can offer you some practices you can employ to place your regrets in an appropriate context.
What if someone has hurt me so deeply, though? Welcome to the real world. On this planet that we inhabit, someone is going to do something to cause you harm, whether it be directly or indirectly. Learn the lessons from your experiences with the person and move on to better people and things.
Don’t turn your regrets into more than they should be. Do you really just want to be a drama queen or king? If not, make a commitment to transform every regret into an empowering opportunity. No one desires to be around someone who is emotionally exhausting. You can run the people you need to succeed in life away from you.
Take a close emotional inventory. What are the things keeping you from progressing? How can you address them? After you respond to those two questions, devise a practical plan for implementing the solutions birthed from your critical emotional inventory. If you would like to involve others in this process, understand that this can be beneficial.
Refuse to allow your regrets to dominate you. Choose to live and win!
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison