Article 5

How Do You Stop Regretting Regret?

 

by Talmud Bah Cert Ed FRSA MInstLM MSET MAC

Head of Service Delivery, Smart Choices

 

Most of us have regrets of some kind, about decisions from the past, actions taken, decisions made, people we've hurt...

 

Here's an official definition:

 

'Regret is a negative conscious and emotional reaction to personal past acts and behaviors. Regret is often expressed by the term "sorry." Regret is often a feeling of sadness, shame, embarrassment, depression, annoyance, or guilt, after one acts in a manner and later wishes not to have done so. Regret is distinct from guilt, which is a deeply emotional form of regret — one which may be difficult to comprehend in an objective or conceptual way. In this regard, the concept of regret is subordinate to guilt in terms of its emotional intensity'.

 

Sometimes regret can lead to an apology that helps heal a situation or a reflection on past choices, which birth a lesson not to repeat mistakes, big or small 'I won't eat their again!' to 'I'll be more considerate in the future.'

 

It's when we hold on to regrets and let them fester in us daily, monthly, yearly, that they begin to foster, guilt, anxiety and depression-skewing the way we perceive and experience our lives.

 

In looking at letting go of regret, I would like to share the contexts where I feel we frame most of our experiences...

 

Our past and future are shaped in the present:

 

Present

 

The present is right now, it is our existence, we create our past and our future simultaneously through our choices and actions.

 

If our hearts and minds are hanging on to regrets from the past, we are never really 'fully' living in the present, so our regrets also shape our future.

 

The past

 

Our past actions often impact in some shape or form on who we are now, but here's the thing...

 

The thing that you regret has already happened - ' you can't change yesterday's weather'...

 

You can't undo the impact/effects of the thing 'if you got wet yesterday, you got wet yesterday'...

 

The thing, the regret, only exists in our minds or the minds of those involved in the experience as a memory and in reality, what we're actually hanging on to is the memory of our own 'feelings' of the experience, which are subjective...

 

A bit like having a bad burger and keeping the taste in our mouths the next day and the day after and the day after that...

 

To really try and keep the taste in our mouths, we'd have to not 'clean' them, making them a hot bed for 'bad' things like bacteria...

 

And that's exactly what we're doing to our hearts and minds when we hold onto regret...

 

The future

 

Here's where we can use past experience to learn and navigate...

 

It rained yesterday, so in case it rains again carry an umbrella - be prepared, equally you could be prepared for the fact that it may rain and you could get wet, so be mentally and emotionally ready to deal with the situation should it arise...

 

We can use the things; situations we regret to make better decisions for tomorrow...

 

Closing thoughts

 

We can't change the past, but we do have control over how we manage the feelings, interactions and choices we make now.

 

Accept the things you can't change, change the things you can.

 

Accept that some things don't work out the way we'd like them to sometimes and that it's a part of life's journey.

 

Learn from these things, not only about ourselves and others, but to inform our decision making and life choices in the future.