Regrets. I have them, and I’m sure you do too.
The feeling of regret is such a strong driver in my life, and in many ways it continues to be destructive.
Amongst many other things, It’s an incubator of negativity.
I’d like to use this blog post to raise awareness of regret – what it is, how it has impacted my life, and what it has taught me. No matter what walk of life you originate from, I hope you’ll be able to take my experience and try the practice of ‘letting go’ of any regret for yourself.
The freedom is liberating.
What is regret?
I am sure that what regret means to me may be different to you.
My experience leads me to recognise regret as a product of a number of things, which mainly include:
- the act of being hung up on something
- to dwell or focus on the past
- being stuck in a negative thought pattern about a past event
- unable to let go of a time gone by.
A more official definition of regret is:
“a negative conscious and emotional reaction to personal past acts and behaviors, often expressed by the term “sorry.” Regret is often a feeling of sadness,shame, embarrassment, depression, annoyance, or guilt, after one acts in a manner and later wishes not to have done so.”
– Curtesey of Wikipedia
As I was writing this, I noticed a recurring theme. Did you?
Regret is all about the past.
In many ways, regret is an act of focusing on the negative that has been, and not giving yourself the freedom of letting go.
How regret has affected me
As I continue to learn about myself and about the way I impact the world around me (I see it as an increase in self awareness), and visa versa, I now see the importance that regret has played in shaping who I am.
Regret has driven me to make impatient decisions, force relationships, feel helpless, feel lonely, fuel desperation, and take impromptu action that has not always worked in my favour.
Like flying a jumbo through a tropical thunderstorm, It’s created an extremely turbulent journey so far.
A real life example
What prompted me to write this post is my current struggle with a previous decision to invest in property.
Without going into details, I began my journey into the Australian property market at age 25, because I felt it was the logical next step in my life.
I had a good job, lived in a nice town, and after a period of spontaneous job changes and crazy adventures overseas, I wanted to prove I was responsible and making progress with my life.
At the time, it’s what I thought was the right thing for me. It’s exactly what I wanted for myself.
Fast forward 3 years, and hindsight is a wondrous (and occasionally annoying) thing.
I now find myself in a changed circumstance, and the decisions I made at that time don’t agree with the new direction I want for myself. A direction that aligns closer with my newly realised values.
I have learnt a lot in the past 3 years, the most important which relates to this example being that I value freedom, and the ability to be spontaneous and mobile.
With my circumstance, I feel I can’t have that.
In comes regret.
As my unsuccessful attempts to sell this property amount, and seemingly take from me the ability to follow this strong calling of freedom, I regularly struggle with emotions of helplessness, anger, frustration, and regret.
It seems that nothing can go my way. The world is against me.
I’m at the mercy of my past decisions, and the regret of making them.
However, what I failed to see for a long time, is where there’s a negative, there’s always a positive.
Indeed, regret has taught me lots.
10 things I have learnt from regret
When I think more about it, regret has taught me a lot about myself and the way I continue to make decisions.
Below are 10 experiences I have encountered on my journey so far.
Maybe you can relate?
- The past is just that, the past. What has happened does not mean the future is dependent on it. You can change anything if you want. It may just take time.
- Decisions and actions, no matter the outcome, make you stronger.
- For all the bad times, there has been many more good times. Celebrate these, and remember them when times get tough.
- Things change, and that’s OK. Embrace change and learn from the new challenges you face as a result.
- The only person you cheat is yourself. If you believe something needs to be changed, then see to making it happen.
- There is nobody more important than you. If you don’t take care of your best interests, then you’re unable to assist others with theirs.
- It’s OK to be wrong. In fact, its perfectly normal (and expected).
- There’s no harm in asking. Chances are the hurdle you face has been jumped before. Seek assistance. It makes life easier. You’ll find people love being given the chance to assist you.
- Change takes time. Remind yourself that change is happening during the long stretches. It’s easy to have your vision clouded by negativity.
- Nurture your sense of hope, and have faith in your decisions. During your time of change, it’s what will keep you going.
There you have it. One of my many experiences with regret and how it continues to shape me as a person.
I hope you get benefit from the words I have written, and the reflection of one of my current challenges in life.
A key note to take away is that you are in control.
Physically, this is not always the case (try arguing your case to the bank manager!), and it doesn’t always need to be.
Emotionally, you are in full control.
You can choose how emotions of regret can lead you. I’ve realised that it is far better to choose a positive route over a negative.
How about you?
Yours in inspiration,
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