What would you do if you had a chance to go back in time and change how things turned out? More importantly, how would you deal with regret? Regret is one of the most powerful human emotions. It’s what keeps people up at night.
The feeling that we made a mistake or did something wrong can be paralyzing – but it doesn’t have to be. In this blog post, I’ll discuss 10 strategies for dealing with regret so that you can move on from your mistakes and focus on the future!
10 Key Strategies to Deal With Regret
1. Write a letter to yourself about what you regret
Sometimes the easiest way to deal with regret is by revisiting that time and brain dumping everything about the situation on paper. Allow yourself to relive the moment and write yourself a letter acknowledging your mistakes, what you wish you could have done differently, and forgive yourself. You’ll feel like a load has been taken off afterward!
2. Get rid of the things that trigger your regret
An example of this is a relationship or friendship that ended or dissolved. When we’re in a relationship, or have a special friendship with someone we tend to collect little mementos of the moments spent together.
However, when a relationship ends, especially because of our wrongdoing, these items can serve as a reminder of the painful loss. Get rid of, donate, or store away items that trigger any feelings of regret or guilt from your past.
3. Don’t just focus on the things you haven’t done, focus on the things you have
Instead of focusing on all the things you haven’t accomplished in life yet, reflect on the things you have. It’s more conducive to focus on your accomplishments and see how those all add up to the wonderful person you are today.
Every day is a new opportunity to live the life you dream of, so stop worrying about what you haven’t done, and take action to live your future in a way you’ll be proud to look back on someday.
4. Focus on what’s going well in life instead of dwelling on what isn’t working out
It’s natural for our brains to wander toward the negatives; whether it’s the negative aspects of ourselves, of others, of our life, or our environment.
Instead, focus on the things that are working in your life and spend more time nurturing those areas. If something isn’t working out the way you hoped, try to find ways to turn it around so you don’t regret not trying hard enough to change it in the future.
5. Accept that you have regrets and that they are a part of being human
Acknowledge that the feeling of regret is a natural part of life – it’s there to remind us that we’re human and can’t always win.
We’ve all missed out on a few opportunities, or have let people down – you may look back and feel saddened by these losses and missed opportunities but, accepting that regrets are sometimes part of life can help you stay focused on the present.
6. Figure out what you could have done differently
When it’s too difficult to let go of regret, spend some time thinking about what you could have done differently. If it was up to you, and you could go back in time, what would you say to the person you lost, or how could you have handled a conflict or situation at work better?
Reflecting on this is a good step for understanding where you were wrong, and how you can do better next time.
7. Learn from your mistakes
Tying into the previous point, once you’ve figured out what you could have done differently, learn from it.
So that next time you find yourself in a similar situation, you’re more aware of the possible consequences, and you’re more likely to make choices that won’t end in regret. Focus on what you can do in the future to avoid repeating those same mistakes.
8. Just get over it
The past is in the past and it simply can’t be changed. Regret is a difficult feeling to experience, especially when we desperately want to make things right.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always going to be in your control. Sometimes you just have to accept that things played out the way they did, and once you’ve ruminated on it a bit all you can really do is just get over it.
9. Speak up about how you feel; don’t bottle up your feelings and let them fester
Regret can eat you up inside if you don’t acknowledge how it’s affecting you. Regret is often accompanied by shame and guilt; which are equally hard to face. Don’t feel like you have to keep these feelings to yourself!
Talk to someone about your feelings so that they can help you get back some perspective on the situation at hand. If you’ve wronged a friend and feel really bad about it, let them know and ask for forgiveness.
10. Focus on what’s in front of you and not what was or could have been
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift”
It’s pointless to focus on all the shoulda, woulda, couldas of life. The only timelines you have control over now are the present and future ones. Take all that you’ve learned from your past and use it as fuel to propel you into a future you’re proud of.
We’ve all had regrets; they’re just a natural part of living life and learning from it. Regret is a harsh emotion often accompanied by shame and guilt. These feelings can be detrimental to your wellbeing so, try not to spend too much time ruminating on them.
We hope these 10 strategies for dealing with regret have been useful for helping you move on from a painful situation from your past. Remember, the future is in your hands; and everything you do from here on out matters more than what happened in the past. So learn from your mistakes, and set out to be the best version of yourself today!