How many of us would say – Given a chance, I wish I could go back and set things right, I wish I hadn’t done that something, or I wish I did something. I guess in retrospect there will always be things that can be made better and funnier thing is it always seems so much easier. But Life sometimes is a hard teacher, it gives you the result first and then asks you to learn! Well so much for the parody of it! In that case how do we come over this feeling of regret? I do acknowledge that the sense of loss is not the best thing in the world and neither is the sense of regret. How to we try and overcome this feeling of regret in life.
The crudest definition of regret might be to say that we find an action that has happened in our life and we feel sorry about the way it happened/not and want to find a way so that we feel better about it. Here are 8 steps to overcoming regret.
As always the first step is to acknowledge and identify as to what we are responding for, whether the situation or person or the thoughts about a situation and our understanding of it. Try to keep things as objective as possible – this way it helps you to put it in a proper perspective.
2) Play down the mistake
I agree that we all make mistakes and I also agree that the feeling of making mistakes is horrible. But it is certainly not as bad as we think! We all have the tendency to think the worst case scenario when something bad happens. Like Mark Twain says – “I have suffered so many things in life – most of which didn’t happen!”. We need to identify if we are falling trap to this habit. Downplay the mistake, nothing ever is as bad as it looks at the first go!
3) What went wrong?
Try and identify what the mistake was. I wouldn’t buy the reasons or the questions like- Why does it happen to me, I am stupid, I am not capable. These are neither good questions nor good answers and they will lead you nowhere good. Try and look at the situation objectively.
4) Can you rectify it?
Well, this should be the immediate question you get on your mind. The problem has already occurred and you thinking and feeling bad about it is not going to do any good for the problem or the situation. The only thing that can set anything right is your action. Try and see what you can do about it and if you can do it, no matter how small it is, DO IT, for there is one power in action which can take your mind off any thoughts, esp the ones which keep distracting you quite often!
5) What can you learn from it?
What has happened has happened now! There is no point in brooding and cursing about our luck or the people responsible for it. We all learn the hard way and we all pay that learning cost. The trick is to move further from it as fast as possible. That is the beauty of any lesson, learn it as soon as possible, get into action, cos nothing ever happens with potential energy unless you put it to use!
6) Do the necessary!
If you think it is your mistake and you owe an apology, then apologize. It may be as simple as acknowledging your error on something or even a way of telling someone how much you appreciate them and how bad you feel for letting them down. If a person deserves to know, then we need to find a way to tell them!
7) Forgive yourself!
This is perhaps one of the most difficult things in life. I have often realized that we forgive others’ mistakes far easier than our own. I am not suggesting that we should lead a life without rules but I am suggesting a life where rules don’t suffocate us. Rules are meant to make our lives simpler, our standards are meant to push us to reach the best of ourselves. Nowhere did we sign up for putting ourselves down! Forgive yourselves! No matter how hard it is, forgive and move further!
8) Appreciate yourself!
Regret is a very powerful emotion, it starts right from an acknowledgement to a search for action to set things right and a lesson to take things further in life. None of these ever came easy and it took a very strong set of emotions to bring in balance between these thoughts and realize yourself through the process. Such an effort certainly needs appreciation, if not from others, from yourself. I realize that we don’t seem to find the time or energy to pat ourselves quite often, If we don’t reinforce right behaviour or thought, how can we even think of strengthening ourselves in that front?
Do me a favour, appreciate your own self! That one bit is never enough.
Well these are a few thoughts on how to overcome regret, some of which can be used, some which can be ignored, but all in all, it is you who is important, your life, your regrets and your ways of coming over it. The article is just a pointer 🙂