Having Regrets? Learn How To Let Them Go
Notes from Dr. Tal July 25, 2021
My Dear Readers,
Let’s put it this way: if you’re living and breathing you can probably share a handful of things you’ve regretted doing - past and present. Regrets are common, they’re part of being human, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Some are more in our control (like downing that milkshake even though your tummy never agrees) and some are not (like spraining an ankle during a sporting event).
Feelings that accompany a regretful decision like anger and sadness generally start off strong. After all, you’ve suffered some kind of loss (i.e. not being able to walk on that sprained ankle for a while). What’s important to remember in this phase is that it’s okay to experience the negative emotions resulting from that loss instead of pushing them away. There’s no use denying that the end result was disappointing and frustrating.
But the goal is to shorten the time of such feelings. Accepting the negative feelings for what they are, paradoxically will propel you to start healing sooner. And slowly, as you become strong enough to handle this new reality and accommodate to the change (unwelcomed as it might be) the intense negative feelings, like anger or any obsessive frustration begin to fade.
Still, there are certain scenarios that are out of your control - scenarios that result in regrets that can greatly affect your quality of life. And it’s these regrets that often linger. The “lingerers” as I call them, are kind of like that one judgmental friend of yours who always seems to show up at your worst moments - silently reminding you that if you harbor a regret that means you made a “mistake” with some of your life choices. But that of course is INCORRECT!
Regrets are not “mistakes''. Yes, they may have knocked you down at times, but they’ve also built you up - allowing you to grow your resiliency. They are powerful, pivotal moments of change in your life - slowly forming the interesting, layered person you are today - flaws and all.
So next time, instead of feeling badly around that judgmental friend of yours, lean into your “mistakes”. In other words, stand tall in the face of your regrets, especially when they come banging at the door of your consciousness - don’t let them in! These thoughts (i.e. “I shouldn’t have”, “if only I”, “I wish I didn’t”, etc…) root you in the past and narrow your ability to see further solutions in your present moment.
Which brings me to the next point - OWNING your story. Accept that what happened happened, and now it’s just another part of you, one you are working on, instead of just a setback you once made it out to be. Owning your story will take you out of the past, and keep those regretful thoughts from creeping back in again.
Last but not least, don’t let regrets keep you from moving towards the things that make you happy. Regret can leave you feeling fearful of repeat and/or new behaviors, but it doesn’t have to. Re-channel your energy (whichever way you can) into the things that bring you joy.
I promise you, you won’t regret it!
Keep on laughing,
Dr. Tal Leead, Psy.D.
PS: If you have a funny story to share, hit reply and send it my way. I always welcome an opportunity to release some dopamine!
Remember: Little Habits, Big Difference
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