Living With Regret Sucks
Regret is a waste of time. It directs your attention towards experiences that you would rather forget and, therefore, whenever regret comes around it causes you to live your present moments in the past. The present is all we have, so we might as well keep our full attention on it.
Specific decisions do not cause regret for everyone, because everyone has different morals, outlooks and ethics. For example, one person who quits their crappy job may not feel any sense of regret and move on with their life, while another person may feel horrible about their decision and wish to take it back the minute they do it.
Regret is felt about many different situations. Some people feel regret for staying with a bad partner for too long, some people regret pretending to be someone they were not, some people regret missed opportunities, and some people regret hard decisions that they had to make in the past. The reasons for regret are endless.
Sometimes, though, our regret can come from someone else. We may not feel regret about a decision until someone shares with us how wrong they thought the decision was. Then we can start to question ourselves and the decision we made, and quickly fall into a state of regret if we focus on their opinion too long.
What Does Regret Stem From?
A selfish attitude in life is one common reason we end up feeling regret. It can cause us to make decisions based on our needs, wants, and beliefs. We may not take other people into consideration at the time, but later on in life when our selfishness steps aside, we feel regret for the way we acted.
Inexperience in life is another common reason that we end up making a decision that results in regret. We can’t know what we don’t know. It’s just that simple. Young people are often affected by inexperience. For example, they stay in an unhappy relationship because they think there is nothing else out there for them. Later in life, when they are out of the unhappy relationship, they feel regret for the years wasted knowing that they could have been much happier if they had just let go.
Pressure is yet another reason we make decisions that cause regret. The pressure to please others and to do what others think is right. Often times, what others want is not what we want, and this can cause regret in our decisions. For instance, the child that is pressured into becoming a doctor when all they want to do is become an artist may feel regret years later knowing that the choice could have been made differently.
Lastly, morally difficult choices are a huge cause for regret. Ending a loved one’s life when they are living off of machines or having an abortion when no other option seems acceptable are both examples of difficult choices. The “˜right’ decision may never make itself known, and ultimately the actually decision made will never feel right to the person who makes it. This results in instant regret that lasts for a very long time, if not forever.
Symptoms of Regret
Regret is obvious to us on the inside when it happens. We feel it, and we think about it. Unfortunately, what it does to our lives is just as bad as the feelings and thoughts we have.
Regret causes us to become older than we are because of worry, stress and anxiety. We may not clearly see what is happening to us, but the stress of regret works away on our health and causes us to age beyond our years.
Regret does not allow us to live our lives fully. The only way to live your life is by being present in the moment. With regret, we become more wrapped up in our past than we do our present. With our attention focused on the regret we experience wasted minutes, hours and even years.
Having regrets can also cause us to give up on our dreams. Past decisions that went bad can hold us back from making future decisions. Because of this we can start to avoid making big decisions because we don’t want to feel regret again, and, many great things in life come out of big decisions.
Why Do We Let Regret Plague Us?
Even if you find it easy to forgive other people, it may still be extremely hard to forgive yourself. Our decisions are much more personal to us and can hide out in a deep and painful place n our memory, to be drawn out with one simple reminder.
Asking ourselves questions that begin with “˜What if…?’ or “˜I wonder…?’ and saying statements like “˜I wish…’ are all the precursors to feeling regret. Our thoughts mull over our decisions, and then we envision different outcomes that could have happened or wasted time that could have been avoided, and before long our mind is occupied by our “˜bad decision’ and our emotions turn negative and bring us down into regret.
How Can We Move Past Regret?
The one great thing about regret is that is a feeling that can be moved past. We don’t have to live with regret for the rest of our lives if we shift our viewpoints, beliefs, and focus.
Forgiving yourself is the first step to letting go of regret. There are whole books written on how to forgive, and while there are many different ideas that will help different people, one important thing to remember is that the past is the past. You cannot change it, so thinking about a decision that you made is not going to do anything except bring unhappiness into your life.
Having compassion for your old self who made the decision is another way to move past regret. Realizing that you made the best decision that you could make at the time may help you to realize that it was the only decision that you could make at the time. If you had known better than you would have done better, but you only knew what you knew. In theory, there is no way you could have made a different decision!
Lastly, learning from the experience will help you let go of the regret once and for all, and make sure you never do it again. We learn a lot from all the choices that we make, all the obstacles that we overcome and all situations that turn out less than perfect. Every single experience in life offers lessons to be learned. If you can find the lesson then you will feel better.
In the end, letting your past decisions bother you and cause you regret is doing no good in your life. It’s not changing the decision you made and making it all better. It is only causing you to harm your health and happiness. Find a way to let go of past regret and any future regrets that may come your way and get living in the moment!