Regret is a hard thing.
I’ve had so many regrets – maybe even more than the average person. Missed opportunities, botched opportunities, poor conduct, poor choices, failed relationships, pain caused, pain received… you name it! I’ve spent so much time lamenting those things, and, I admit, many times my regret has formed such a cloud over my life that it made it hard to go forward.
Can you relate?
Regret is a Trap
It serves no one. Not you. Not anyone else. Regret, like shame, is a poor motivator. You might feel like you deserve to feel regret, but the truth is, you can’t afford it. Not if you are going to move forward and accomplish anything and become the person you envision.
Regret can be paralyzing. It keeps you bound in what happened in the past and clouds your thinking and judgment, making it difficult to avoid falling into self-sabotaging cycles.
Avoid the Regret Trap
Here are some steps I have learned to take to pull myself out of the regret trap and set my thinking right:
- Take Ownership. Taking ownership is different than assessing self-blame and stepping into shame. Taking ownership is a practical matter. When I look at a situation and ask myself, “What can I own in this?”, I can make a more objective assessment than I can when I just start beating myself up. Once I know, in full fairness, what I own, I can take steps to make changes that help me grow and move forward.
- Forgive Yourself. I’ve heard it said that this is one of the hardest things to do, and I don’t disagree. There is a discipline involved, because those pesky old feelings of shame and regret keep wanting to reassert themselves. I love to journal, as you know, and I use my journal to help me shift my feelings and thinking. Once I have taken stock and decided what I can own, I then active journal about forgiving myself and showing myself compassion (this is NOT excuse-making. It’s just forgiving and loving). I declare my forgiveness of myself and then, every time those old nasty feelings and thoughts try to rear their ugly heads, I reject those thoughts, because they are only there to limit me, punish me, and cause me pain. I reframe my thoughts to thoughts that serve me and move me forward.
- Set New Intentions. After acknowledging what I own and practicing forgiveness, I set new intentions for how I want to think, feel, and act. This is how I grow and become the person I want to be.
The World Needs You
The simple fact is that you were born with inherent gifts to give the world. When you allow shame and regret to cause you to withdraw and hide, you rob the world of those gifts. And we need them. The world needs your gifts.
If you want 2022 to be your best year yet, no matter what external circumstances may come, try these steps to letting go of regret and stepping into hope and possibility.
And Stay On Point!