What would you do differently if you had a do-over?
Something you said, something you did?
Everyone messes up sometimes. It’s normal to look back with regret.
And that awful, terrible feeling of regret can stick around for a while.
But regret keeps you in the past and you:
wish you’d have done/said/acted differently.
think/talk about it.
keep thinking/talking about it.
feel remorseful/sad/angry about it.
know you can’t change it, but you can’t get it out of your head, even though you know what’s done is done.
How can you get past it?
Try these 5 tips to get past regret:
1. Remember, you can’t change the past.
It would be great to be like Superman and be able to turn back time. But our reality is that what’s done can’t be un-done.
Wishing it were different is a waste of time and energy. Even so, we have to do it sometimes. There’s an old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” It’s okay to cry a little. It might help you feel a little better about the situation. But crying won’t clean it up. So cry a little if you want, but then decide your next course of action, and move on.
2. Be accountable for your actions.
Whether you ask others for forgiveness, offer restitution, or whatever you decide to do to try to right a wrong, accept responsibility for your actions. It may turn out that it’s not as big an issue as you made it out to be and you worried and feared the worst unnecessarily.
3. Forgive yourself and others.
Forgiveness is liberating. It acknowledges imperfection and helps give us the ability to move on. Ask some one you’ve hurt for forgiveness, without expectation. Forgive yourself and others.
4. Learn from past mistakes.
Ask yourself: What would you do differently and how would that make it better or worse? You may discover that you made the best choice with the information available at the time. And everyone makes mistakes. Use them as a learning experience so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.
5. Live in the present.
When you dwell on the past, it’s impossible to live fully in the present. You can’t trip over what’s behind you. Remember, no do-overs.
We can’t change our past but we can change our future.
Regret keeps us stuck in the past. It pulls us back and keeps us there.
Every minute of every day is an opportunity to be better. If you’re stuck regretting the past, you won’t be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. Instead, be ready by getting past regret.
Note: Sometimes, regret can be the source of deep and long-lasting pain, such as forgiving an assailant who harmed you or a loved one, or forgiving yourself for unknowingly harming some one, such as in an accident. Seek professional help if you find yourself unable to get past the feeling of regret.