Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience. ~Victoria Holt
I don’t buy it. I have regrets. I’ve made choices I would like to reverse, don’t you? Can we really slough it off as ‘experience’? Sure, and hopefully we do learn from it so as not to repeat the same mistake twice. I’m a slow learner I guess. I’ve made the same mistake more than twice <place smart remark here>.
I guess for me, the difference is whether we live in regret or not. Does it consume us? It’s one thing to learn from our choices and move forward, knowing that what we’ve experienced is worth the learning, but it’s another when we’ve made poor choices that impact our lives. I’ve wrestled with this for years whenever I hear a phrase about not having any regrets. Living in regret gets us stuck and keeps us there no question, but I wonder if there isn’t an element of, “I wish I hadn’t done that,” in all of us that we’re not 100% sure how to handle.
If it affects someone else, asking their forgiveness is paramount to reconciliation. As Dodinsky says, it is also imperative that action needs to be set to our apology. What if you need to forgive yourself? That can sometimes be more challenging. Here are a few ideas to consider when having this crazy wrestling match with yourself:
- Stop the madness. Get quiet and do some reflecting. Maybe write out what happened and what you wish you’d done differently. In that quiet space, accept that it happened, you’re aware of it, and that you forgive yourself in order to move on.
- If you need to apologize, do it. Don’t let your pride or the blame game hold you back. Life is too short for that kind of stupidity. There is just something about the cleansing of the soul when you take ownership of the situation and do your part to redeem it.
- No expectations. You are not responsible for anyone else’s reactions but your own. If someone isn’t ready or willing to redeem the situation, that’s their choice. Period.
- Be gentle with yourself. Recognize that just because you blew it does not mean life is over. It may feel painful for a time, but you will work your way through it. Again, give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Reminder – each of us has blown it in some way, at some point, right?
- Discuss your happenings with someone you can trust, whether it’s a friend, family member or professional. Keeping it to yourself perpetuates it, it doesn’t resolve it. Inner angst creates all sorts of other problems, sometimes even physical or mental distress. ‘Getting it off your chest’ as the saying goes, generates another layer of healing.
- De-clutter your mind. It may take effort, but determine to fill your mind with good things. Where we focus, we are. This is the one big thing that’s been a game-changer for me. I started listening to and reading material that gets my brain going in a different direction.
- Look at it – that regretful thing – and inform it that it has no power over you and that you won’t live under it. After all, we live what we allow.
Do I believe regret can be a teacher? Of course I do. Do I believe it just needs to be re-named as ‘experience’? Not sure about that. Your thoughts?