How To Let Go Of Regret

11jul1It’s absolutely true that I have no regrets in my life – even though I’ve been on this earth for half a century and made a heap of mistakes/errors of judgement.

Over the course of my life, I’ve hurt people by my actions or words; I’ve done things that I wish I hadn’t; I’ve reacted in ways that I’d change now if I could (you get the picture, I’m sure), and for years I used to beat myself up over all of it.

But then I became a Life Coach and I realised that regret (or bitterness or guilt) over things in the past is a complete waste of time, energy & life – time and energy that I could be devoting to other things that would add to my life and to the lives of others.

11jul2I learned that letting go of regret is simply about making a decision to do it.

Like everything else in our life, living with regret is a conscious decision that we make. We choose to keep it in our thoughts & our lives and we can choose to let it go – just like that.

Because, really, what does it add to our lives, apart from sadness, anxiety and a residual feeling of being ‘not good enough’, or of being a ‘failure’ in some way? Neither of which feelings are true for any of us as human beings, because we’re always good enough and we never fail – we simply learn.

From the time we’re born, we’re constantly learning, growing & evolving and there are times where the growth process is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.

Making mistakes is simply part of that process.

11jul3if your child, or your best friend, or someone you love deeply, made a mistake and stumbled painfully, would you reprimand them for it? Or, would you help them back up, love them regardless and help them to discover what they could learn from the mistake, so that they could leave it behind and move forward freely?

Well, that’s the same approach we can choose to take over our own mistakes and errors of judgement. We’re often our own harshest critic when, in fact, we can choose to be our own, compassionate, best friend!

Our mistakes, and the learnings we take from them, shape us – as long as we let go of regret. Where there’s regret, there’s no place for learning, growth and moving forward.

Bronnie Ware, a retired palliative care nurse who supported people in the last three to twelve weeks of their lives, talks about the top 5 regrets that people have, when they’ve lost their health and are facing the end of their earthly life. They are:

11jul81. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard, to the detriment of my quality of life and those I love.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

As you can see, the death bed regrets here are not about mistakes people had made, they’re about the things they wish they had done.

So, if you’re holding onto feelings of regret over anything, decide to let them go.

If there are things you feel you need to do in this process, like call someone to apologise, or write a letter, or make amends in some way, or ask for forgiveness, then do it today. Do whatever it takes to help you move forward. And, if the person concerned is no longer around, speak to them in your head to let them hear what you need to say – that will be enough.

Then, look for the learning in the things you regret having said or done: what will you say or do differently next time?

11jul5Finally, imagine the old feelings of regret as bubbles just above your head. Watch the bubbles float slowly away and then burst, so that there’s nothing left of the bubbles or the old feelings.

Poof – they’re gone, never to return!

If there are things you regret not having done, then do them. That’s the wonderful thing about life – we get so many second chances!

And if there are things in your life that you know you’ll regret if you don’t change them, then change them – NOW.

Life is too short to live with regret or to create a life you know you’ll regret on your deathbed. So, choose to live each day with love, joy, peace of mind, excitement and a sense of adventure – then, you’ll never, ever have regrets!

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