“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.” – Jonathan Larson
The urge to dwell on mistakes from the past is one that many are familiar with. Whether you’re consumed with thoughts of what you could have done differently or different actions that may have resulted in a less disappointing outcome, once regret takes root in your mind, it’s hard to get it out.
If left unchecked, this feeling spreads beyond your mind and affects the rest of your life; from reducing your productivity to fracturing your relationships with the people around you. Fortunately, the same mind that can so easily fall prey to the crushing feeling of regret is your best weapon against the emotion, and here are 5 hacks to help you do just that:
Acknowledge the feeling
The phrase, “I have no regrets,” is a common one and quite often a misguided notion. By saying that, most people inadvertently force themselves to pretend the feeling doesn’t exist. However, sweeping a problem under the rug only puts it out of sight and out of mind for a little while, until something inevitably pulls that rug out from under you.
You can’t fix something if you don’t first recognize that it’s broken. Therefore, acknowledging that you feel regret about something is the first step toward overcoming it. From this point, you can start working on addressing these feelings with other hacks listed here.
Write down your regrets
There’s no better way to know what you’re dealing with than to break it down as comprehensively as possible. In this case, journaling your regrets can give you some much-needed context about them that will help you find a way to work around them.
Once you’ve written down your regrets, it’s easier to fact-check them as compared to when they’re rolling around in your mind. This not only gives you a new perspective but also lets you create guidelines to avoid repeating the things you’re regretful over.
Look on the bright side
Most times, regret involves focusing on how a different choice or action on your part could have resulted in a better outcome. But, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Rather than dwelling on what could have gone right, focus on what didn’t go wrong.
Finding a different perspective like this will help you appreciate what you’ve got going for you and with time, forget what might have been. You can center yourself by accepting that even if you’d done things as your regrets have you wish, things might have turned out badly anyway, or much worse than they did.
Try something new
Nothing works better to distract you from negative thoughts than trying something new and exciting. When regret threatens to overwhelm you, you can shift your mind’s focus away from that feeling by engaging it with something fun.
While doing something you like and are already familiar with is also a great distraction from negative emotions like regret, trying something new can be more effective. This is because your mind will need to work a little harder to grasp the concept of whatever new thing you’re exploring, which won't leave much room for thoughts about anything else.
Dwelling on your regrets is like beating yourself up over your disappointments over and over again. Because the feeling stems from your harsh judgment of yourself over your shortcomings or failure to meet your expectations, you need to forgive yourself to get over it.
Forgiving yourself is a lot of work but ultimately rewarding. It’s the best way to help you heal and move on as you overcome regrets of the past, focus on enjoying the present, and look forward to a better future.
“Regrets only apply when we don't learn from a situation. No sense looking back, look forward with new knowledge and no regret.” – Catherine Pulsifer