“Letting Go of Past Regrets”


The following blog, along with previous blogs written, is based on issues from various patients I have worked with over the years. If you wish to no longer receive these blogs, merely e-mail me at lifesourcecenter@aol.com, stating “Do not email future blogs” and your name will be deleted from the mailing list.

With that, let’s get on with the current topic.

“Letting Go of Past Regrets”

Most of us have memories of past regrets, be it for things we said or didn’t say or for things we did or didn’t do. This can be especially true when there is a loss of a loved one, friend or acquaintance. However, it can also center around saying something that cuts deep and wounds another person, damaging the relationship. Much of our regrets center around a sense of powerlessness and frustration, of wanting to go back and do things over or do things “right” .Because we can’t go back to change it or make for a different outcome, we can easily get stuck in this vicious cycle of self blame.

How do we move from self blame to self acceptance? Accomplishing this is easier said than done. All too often our attitude toward a past situation negatively out weighs the  actual occurrence. We tend to judge ourselves as if we knew then what we know now. As a result, we put a great deal of weight on past behaviors when we were not in the same place emotional, intellectually and psychologically as we are now. Blaming ourselves for not having it all together at that point is a lesson in futility.

Regret, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can be used as a learning experience and spur us to act in a different, more productive manner. There are countless examples of people who turned their direction in life, tried something new, or charted a new course because a regret motivated them. The only good thing about a regret is to use it as a learning or growth experience.  But for far too many, it can also seem like a millstone on their backs weighing them down. The person going back over what the did or didn’t do, only ends up going around it circles getting nowhere.

Enough with the regrets already.  Let’s get to ways of getting the most out of the present, inspite of the past.

  1. Be realistic about your part in past choices, reactions or behavior. Remember that we are constantly faced with choices and are not always emotionally in the right pace to make the right choice. Conditions are not always optimal for anyone to make the perfect decision every time.
  2. Fully realize that berating yourself emotionally will get you nowhere. Trying to atone for past mistakes by engaging in negative self talk may be your way of punishing yourself but won’t allow you to take the next step.
  3. Forgive yourself.  This easier said than done. As a matter of fact, it is easier to forgive others than yourself. That’s because you’re with yourself 24/7 with ample time to ruminate negatively about your part. Be gentle with yourself. Life is all too short to waste it beating yourself up.
  4. Self forgiveness is a process. It means not putting yourself down for past mistakes nor leting them define who you are. It means working toward believing that you’re better than you think you are and a person of value..
  5. Objectively look at what happened and determined what you learned. This does not mean bashing yourself or merely saying you will never to do it again.  It means taking a hard look at the past regret and coming up with a plan that would circumvent it happening again. 
  6. Focus on you life in the present. Rest assured, a similar situation will reappear at some point.  However, you are not the same person you were in the past and have a second opportunity to do things differently.
  7.  Create  future memories in the present. Be mindful of what you learned from your past experience and bring to the present only what you learned.  In this way future memories will be positive in nature, free of regrets.

Readers are invited to comment, share thoughts, ideas or suggestions about this blog or any other previous blogs. Readers can e-mailing me at lifesourcecenter@aol.com or mailing me at lifesourcecenter, 710 Main Street, Plantsville Connecticut, 06479.