Regret is no stranger us. Almost everyone has experienced that burning feeling of regret. We all have several things in our past we wish we had done, not done or done differently. Some are minor, involving decisions that can be rectified. But the serious and most heartbreaking ones are those realized at the end of life. You certainly wouldn’t want to grow old lamenting about the things you should have done when you still had the ability, opportunity and time.
Joyce Meyer defines regret as “Distress over a desire unfulfilled or an action performed or not performed”. It can either be productive or unproductive. Productive regret has a positive outcome where you learn to change your behavior for the future. Unproductive regret however may cause chronic stress as a result blaming oneself. As mentioned above regret can be due to things done or not done. Below are steps you should take to reduce regrets in your life.
Use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
“Rather than frustrating you with the unrealistic goal of stopping the thoughts, cognitive-behavior therapy helps by weakening the connection between obsessive thinking and the rest of your working life.”
CBT helps you to focus on emotional healing and how to kill unproductive thoughts that drag you into regrets. You will change your feelings of shame, guilt and anger, and ultimately end up reducing or replacing your feelings of regret.
Listen to your voice
To avoid regret and disappointment, listen to your inner voice. According to the magazine, Psychology Today:
“A well-trained intuition is almost always right—though whether or not it is can, of course, only be known in retrospect…Mistrusting your inner voice chips away at his general sense of confidence and that… is a worse thing to happen than being wrong.”
If you fear being criticized you probably don’t voice your opinions as often as you should. In no time you’ll find yourself living the life others want for you. Not what you want for yourself. You may wear a façade that shows contentment just to please others. But deep down you’ll beat yourself up endlessly for not following your dream. It is good to listen to others, but it is best to stay true to self. If you feel alive behind a microphone but look forward to the accounting class with dread, spend more time holding the microphone. It is more rewarding. The bottom line is, do not ignore your inner voice. Y our inner voice will guide you to a life of abundance and fulfillment.
Seek and accept change
“Do we really want to get rid of your resentments, your anger, and your fear? Many of us cling to our fears, doubts, self-loathing or hatred because there is a certain distorted security in familiar pain. It seems safer to embrace what we know than to let go of it for fear of the unknown.” Narcotics Anonymous Book/page 33
Open yourself to change, however scary it is. A certain security and assurance comes with familiarity making it utterly impossible to step out of your comfort zone. How many opportunities have you passed up due to fear of change? Remember that you can only grow by finding new possibilities. Do not be afraid to try new things nor should you be reluctant to break traditions. So staying where you are will certainly get you nowhere.
Think positive. Think better. See the bigger picture. Work for what you can change and change it. If you can’t change anything, just let it be and change the way you think about it. Being miserable is always your choice. Make your mind believe you can do it, before actually doing it. If you think negatively, you will produce negative results. The reverse is true. Period.
Take failures as lessons
Failure is not the best feeling. There is no doubt about it. The fear of the possibility of failing is worse than fear itself. The upside to failure is that at least you’ll have had firsthand experience on how not to go about a task. We’ve all had our fair share of failures. Ironically, iconic people are the ones with the most failures of all. Lovers of John Grisham books should know that he was rejected by twelve publishing houses and sixteen agents, before his first novel was accepted. Walt Disney was fired once because his boss found that he ‘lacked imagination’. We all know how he turned out. What these incidences tell us? There is no success without failure. So, take it as your personal responsibility to think positively and act different. See failure in a better light. It is better having a life full of small failures that you learned from than having a lifetime full of regrets of never trying. Instead of beating yourself up for failing, learn from it. It is a natural part of life. Adopting a good attitude about it will save you a great deal of regrets that may haunt you in the future.
You need to be loved, but not at the cost of yourself
A research by Mike Morrison and Neal J. Roese found out that:
“Romance was the number one regret. People crave strong, stable social relationships and are unhappy when they lack them.”
We fear loneliness. Everyone fears being left alone. Such fears may drive you to settle with the wrong person, to become second best. Even though you may feel unhappy in your relationship, you may mistakenly trick yourself into believing that you are happy. You tend to think that you can never find a better person to love. As the years roll by, the endless bickering and withdrawal turn into hatred, and you’ll find yourself wishing you had made different choices back in the day. So make the choices now. If they haven’t changed after a year and still sneers at your dreams, make derogatory comments about how you dress and talk, think twice. If your partner looks down on your friends and relatives, chances are they will never change. Run for the hills. Don’t settle for less, it will only serve to belittle you and ultimately, you will end up regretting.
“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Grouch Marx
Honesty is indeed everything, whether it’s with regards to businesses or personal interactions. And if you didn’t know, honesty can lead you to wealth. You have to be credible and trustworthy to attract investors and to build relationships. Without honesty you’ll spend the better part of your life second guessing other peoples intentions, thereby losing golden friendships. It is important you realize that most things may not work out. And in most of the time it could be your fault not the other person’s fault. So be honest with oneself. Kill the ugly habit of blaming the other people. Take full responsibility. Be honest with yourself. That is the blunt truth.
Don’t be afraid to reach your full potential
Everyone questions their capability. Even though it may seem unlikely most of us deliberately ruin our chances of success. Majorly because we believe that we are neither good enough nor smart enough or simply fear. According to Dan Schawbel, a contributor at Forbes Magazine, the most common impediment to reaching our full potential is fear. Dan says:
“The most common trap is fear. I’ve never met a 20 year old or a 50 year old who says, “I’ve never had a single passion, dream, hope or desire.”We all have them, but a lot of us give in to fear as soon as we get close to them. The reason is that fear only gets loud when you do things that matter. Fear never bothers you if you’re average but the second you dare to be more than ordinary, fear awakens.”
Once you work up the nerve to try someone else will have already done it, and you’ll live wishing you had tried sooner. Perfection can never be met. If you have a life-long dream, do not fear going for it. Go for it. It is your responsibility to make concrete steps to achieve your full potential. The biggest step you’ll ever take in life is the first one. So don’t be afraid to try, after all you’ll never know how high you’ll soar if you don’t spread your wings.
Own up to your mistakes
We hate making mistakes. Owning up to our mistakes is even worse. If we don’t admit to our mistakes, we’ll most probably end up repeating them. Not forgetting the guilt that comes with cover-ups. It is human to make a wrong move, make a bad choice or rub someone the wrong way. You can keep regretting about it. It will drain you of the energy you need to execute other important tasks. Learn from your mistakes. Learn to move on rather than living in the past, regretting your mistakes. Why should you torment yourself when you can clear up the air and be at peace? The sooner you own up to your mistakes the faster you can learn from it and shift your focus to other, better things.
You may be haunted by something that happened in your past. It could be a terrible decision that you regret making or someone wronged you. Learn to forgive. Forgiveness absolves the wrong doer, but more importantly it liberates you by freeing your conscience and thus allowing you to focus on other things that make you happy. Harboring resentment gives other people power over you. Forgiveness is not just for the other person. Learn to forgive yourself too. Forgiving yourself reduces your feelings of guilt and boosts your confidence. This will impact greatly on different areas of your life and therefore improve how you relate with others.
The choice about the life you want to live rests solely in your hands. Do not let fear dictate the kind of life you will lead. Your happiness is depended on how you choose to respond to your feelings of fear or guilt. If you can’t change a situation, see it as an opportunity to learn from. If you have the energy and a second chance, chase your dreams. Better you to such a point that when asked if you’d have done things differently, your answer would be a resounding no, as it should be. Learn from your regrets and remember them, so that you can evade the next window for regret. There are lots of ways of avoiding regrets in life. I have just highlighted a few. Do you know of other ways of avoiding regrets?