Regret, according to Merriam-Webster is sadness or disappointment caused especially by something beyond a person’s control or, an expression of sorrow or disappointment. Often individuals self-blame, dwell on the sadness and disappointment associated with prior decisions, and have missed out on events, and experiences. Too often individuals focus on things beyond their control. Avoiding regrets: there’s no turning back the clock, requires recognition of one’s focus, and making a conscious decision to redirect one’s energies from the past to the future. Avoiding regrets is an individual choice.
Avoiding Regrets: There’s No Turning Back the Clock
There are no “do-overs” in life. Despite our wishes to “turn back the clock” and make different decisions or actions given our 20:20 hindsight, we have to acknowledge the regrets and learn to live with what has transpired in our lives. Don’t spend anymore valuable time on “would,” should” or “could”, it’s over, and despite how much we want a different outcome from the past it will not happen. The “clock” has ticked forward. Recognizing our feelings associated with regrets is a reflection of the past and not the future.
Time to Adapt, You Can’t Turn Back the Clock
If you have been consumed by regret, sadness, anger, shame, anxiety, and disappointment with past deeds or how you perceive life has “treated you,” there is still the option of reframing your experiences and developing a different outlook. It’s time to put closure on the past, no matter how painful it is. Avoiding regrets is a personal choice. Reflect on all the time you have spent focused on regrets, and acknowledge that the time has been spent and now you are actively going to refocus on the future. It may be scary and somewhat anxiety-provoking.
Priorities change over time, and this is the time to focus on the here and now. When time and energy are spent on something productive where you can see results, you will build on this positive energy and feel better. Your regrets are lessons that you learned along life’s journey.
Avoiding Regret Action Steps
- Realistically acknowledge your role in a disagreement that resulted in a fractured relationship. Apologize for what you have done and do not excuse yourself.
- Do something to “bury” your regrets towards those that you cannot apologize in person. Formalize the process by writing your regrets and then burying or burning the list
- Commit to new, positive ways of thinking, focus on the positive that you have accomplished
- Donate to a charity or volunteer, expend you energy in meaningful ways
Remember, it is not always about you and others are also suffering, especially these days.