How to Let Go of Regret – Using Guilt as the Springboard to a Better Life!
I hate regret. I wish I could undo many things. I have seen the dark side of my choices. I wish I could make different ones. We all have a past. Who doesn’t know this feeling?
Our mistakes help us to form who we become. We have 2 options regarding how to approach them:
- We can recluse from our mistakes, trying to pretend they never happened, acting like it is possible to move on without making amends or acknowledging that our choices have affected others in our lives… but, as long as we pretend our regrets aren’t an important part of our life, we will be living a lie.
- Our second option is to face our mistakes. We need to ‘fess up to the fact that we don’t always do everything right and that no matter what we have done it can’t always be brushed away and ignored with excuses. (Read also: How to see yourself as God Sees You)
How do we face our mistakes??? It’s time to get real… First, we need to understand:
Why do we do the regrettable in the first place?
Because we justify it. We somehow convince ourselves that whatever we do is going to somehow make us feel better, make us “happier”. Nobody makes bad choices because they want pain or regret… we make them because we think they are what we want at the moment. We think we want another wasted hour, another cigarette, another drink, another fling, another high, another pity party or another explosion of rage because it “feels good” or because it makes us momentarily forget all the regret. But, the release only lasts for a moment and then we are left with another mark on our list of regrets.
If we keep making excuses for ourselves we will just keep making the same mistakes. If we keep making excuses, we convince ourselves that there is no reason to change, no reason to regret the regrettable in our lives.
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How to Get out of the Cycle
Sometimes the only way to get out of the cycle is to admit that regrets exist, and that they are not bad, but rather the exact springboard we need to change. We need to recognize regret as a chance for growth, as a new opportunity to make a better choice, as a motivation to seek help, advice or counseling to give us the tools we need to recognize and choose the better option. In order to start making different choices we need to surround ourselves with different options. We can’t simply ignore our desires to be happy or to numb the hurt; rather, we just have to find healthy and productive outlets. We need to recognize that our past is always showing us the path to a better future.
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Regret – The prison or the key?
Sometimes the easiest way to recognize that we are imprisoned is by being in a real one. I have been blessed now with the opportunity to speak several times at a women’s prison where the women are approaching release and it has impacted me tremendously.
Those in prison are often very open to change. Why? They are at an all time low, they have no choice but to recognize the fact that their regrets have brought them to where they are. They recognize the need for something different.
Those of us outside those walls sometimes think we are perfect simply because we are outside. We think our regrets only affect us, that they only hurt us, that they aren’t worth regretting because we haven’t hit bottom yet. But. I promise you, that until you recognize your regrets as a real thing, something that should change your life, something that should be amended for and avoided in the future, until we can recognize regret as a personal gift from God, an opportunity to grow, to change and to make amends, we will only continue to spiral downwards.
If you are unhappy or not at peace in your life, if you have regrets you are trying to bury or run away from, you too are in a prison. Sometimes we just refuse to see it. Sometimes we try to convince ourselves that it isn’t there. Sometimes we think that if we just try hard enough we can escape, but it only makes the walls close in. The harder we try of our own accord to get out or ignore the truth, the walls just get taller and thicker.
When we look at the faces of those behind actual walls yearning for a second chance, we should see ourselves. We should remember the famous words – “There, but for the grace of God, go I”. We should see the freedom that comes from the hope that there is a way out and a way up. First, we simply have to recognize that we are down and that we need help.
Where do you get it?
Regret is the key to your prison!
You needn’t fear it nor run from it. Embrace it, confront it, do something about it! Forgive yourself, learn, change and look back only to thank God for the gift of the key in the first place!