Overcoming Regrets and Moving Forward Positively

Written by Louise Hughes (Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist)

regretWe all have regrets from time to time,  things we wish we had or hadn’t said or done, friends we wish we had kept in contact with or even things we wished we had never worn! Regrets are a normal part of being a human being, they are both a feeling and a pattern of thinking where the brain constantly replays past events, actions or a reaction to a situation. But unproductive regret can cause you grief, restrict your happiness and stop you moving forward and enjoying your present and creating a positive future for yourself. The key is in learning to forgive yourself and allowing yourself to move on.

Accepting and acknowledging the feelings of regret can be an important step in overcoming it. Regret is a critical way of thinking in which you blame yourself for the way that things happened. If used positively productive regret can help change the way you act in future situations, however unproductive regret (where you completely blame yourself) can cause stress, anxiety and health problems if not resolved.

Identifying the feelings associated with regret can also help you to process them. These vary from person to person but often include guilt, remorse, sadness, loss, shame and anxiety. Constantly replaying situations over and over can cause stress and anxiety but can also lead to worry about making the same mistakes in the future. It might also be helpful to consider where your regret stems from and the situation that you are replaying in your mind. There are lots of reasons people may feel regretful, but may include choices around lifestyle, career, family, marriage or children.

There are things that can be done to help, sometimes talking through your regrets can help, either with a friend or a trained professional. Sometimes it may be helpful to take action such as reconnecting with friends who we have lost contact with, or apologising to a person we feel we have wronged. Often, writing things down may help, and adding a column that explores why you acted as you did and what you could do instead in the future will shift the focus to a more positive one. You could even write yourself a letter of forgiveness to your younger self. Meditation can be a helpful tool to help you stay present and be in the moment.

Regrets can be important protective tools for the future and may stop you acting in the same way again. They may also be important lessons that you need to learn from them in order to grow and become stronger and wiser. Then in the future you can apply those lessons that you have learned to not make the same mistakes again.

Moving forward positively,

Louise x

Resources

How to Overcome Serious Regrets. Available here.

Overcoming Regret: The Addiction Perspective. Available here.

Don’t Get Stuck in Regret. Available here.


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