What To Do With Regrets
Regrets are tricky and sneaky.
You may think you don’t have many but I bet you at least have a couple. Sometimes we tell ourselves lies to make ourselves feel better. I’m glad I never kissed so and so. I’m so relieved I never went to art school…you can say it but you aren’t kidding anyone and especially not yourself my friend.
Maybe you don’t lie to yourself and you do have regrets.
Maybe you regret that second helping of mashed potatoes, like I often do, or for you maybe it’s a little bigger like the education you chose or the person you married. I think it’s a rare person who doesn’t sometimes have regrets.
The beauty is that while we and our loved ones are still alive we can accomplish just about anything, even if it’s long overdue.
There are, of course, regrets that cannot be redeemed such as when someone is no longer with us, then yes it is really too late. The key here is to learn from that situation and never let that happen in your life again.
But for all the other regrets we sometimes have in life, it’s probably not too late at all. It’s never too late to get an education, become a professional, find love, or reinvent yourself. Never.
The sooner you realize this the sooner you can put to right the regrets you currently have and avoid living in a way that creates more regret going forward.
What are regrets?
According to Wikipedia, Regret is the emotion of wishing one had made a different decision in the past, because the consequences of the decision were unfavorable. Regret is related to perceived opportunity.
Some of the most common regrets people have are related to romance, family, education, career, finance, and parenting.
- Being afraid to go after what they truly want.
- They people please or try to fit in. They don’t become an artist because their parents wanted them to be a banker.
- They didn’t kiss the boy because what would people think?
- They were mean bitches to others because they were trying to fit in with the other crowd.
- They didn’t wear the red lipstick or the fish net stocking they loved because people might talk….
- Letting fear hold them back.
- They don’t start that business because it could fail.
- They don’t get a degree in fashion because what if they don’t make any money?
- They don’t travel to Japan because anything could happen.
- Not spending time doing what they love and spending too much time working a job that doesn’t light them up. I’ll paint when I have more time.
- Not letting things go and holding on to grudges and anger.
Get out your journal and do some digging.
- I think it’s a good idea to spend a little time and think about yourself as a child. What did you want to do? Be? See? How did you like to play?
- When you were older what did you dream of becoming? Who did you look up to? Don’t be discouraged if you like something or looked up to someone and you really don’t connect with them now. Continue to dig out what you wanted and write it down. Maybe you don’t still want to be Madonna but you are still interested in music or fashion, just write it all down.
- What I’m getting at here is what dreams have you let fade into regret? What people have you shut out? Take a few minutes or a few hours to reflect and journal out all the things that have been left in the past.
Write a list of broken dreams and other regrets you might have.
- Go through the list and decide if you truly still feel excited about each thing if you had it to do all over again. Some things you really don’t regret, cross them off. Some things you still think would have been pretty cool.
- Look at each one and determine if you could just do it right now. Always wanted a tattoo? Schedule an appointment. Always wanted to be an artist? Get yourself on down to the art store and set up your very own home studio. Always wanted to remove that tattoo? Schedule that appointment!
- Maybe you have some big stuff like you wanted to become a doctor and you think that’s impossible, that’s it’s way too late for that. Let me tell you something - nothing is impossible, simply Google people becoming doctors late in life and you can read story after story of people who did just that in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
Truly. Nothing is impossible if you let go of the fear.
Now look toward the future. What things do you still dream of achieving or doing?
- Write a list, write down everything you would like to do, what are your current dreams and goals?
- Are you actively pursing your these things? If you have many regrets now in your life you likely are not actively pursuing your goals and dreams either. It’s entirely possible that you simply don’t know how and what I mean by that is that you truly don’t know how to choose a goal and actively pursue it until you achieve it. You would be surprised at the number of people who don’t know how to do this so don’t beat yourself up if you really don’t know where to begin.
- Decide what it is you want, what are your dreams? Remove the fear, remove the resistance and go get it, make it happen.
You are far more likely to regret those things you didn’t do, those chances you didn’t take rather than the decisions you did make or the things you did do. Even if you fail a few hundred times you will probably succeed at least ten times. Ten times is so much better than the zero you get from not trying at all.