How To Overcome Regret Forever
How to Overcome Serious Regrets
There is no such thing as a life without any regrets. Regret is both a feeling and a pattern of thinking where one dwells on or constantly replays and thinks about an event, reactions or other actions that could have been taken. Regrets can become over painful burdens that interfere with your present happiness, cause you grief, and restrict your future.Unproductive regret can also keep you from moving forward. If you find yourself overcome by regrets, identify your feelings of regret, learn to forgive yourself, and move on.
Learn what regret is.Regret is a critical way of thinking or feeling in which you blame yourself for things that happened. Productive regret can help you learn to change your behavior for the future. Unproductive regret, where you completely blame yourself, can create chronic stress which leads to health problems.
- Regret can be over things you have done or not done. For example, you could regret acting a certain way during an argument, or you may regret not taking a job offer.
Identify your feelings of regret.These may be different from person to person, but feelings of regret include: sadness, loss, remorse, anger, shame, and anxiety.Identify these feelings related to regret. For example, you may have the thought of a past deed and then you think about this event for the majority of the day. This can leave you feeling defeated and hopeless. You may think about what you did or said, or you may think about what you wished you had done differently to change your current situation.
- Constant rethinking and regretting can cause anxiety. This may lead to worrying about future decisions that you might regret later.
Consider where your regret comes from.Think about what's causing your regret. People can feel regretful for a number of reasons. Typical regretful experiences include:
- Lifestyle: Many people regret moving to a different country or may wish they hadn't turned off a house offer. For example, you moved from Canada to Australia because you wanted a warmer life. But just months later, you have found it impossible to find work, have experienced life on the streets and feel homesick every single day. You wish you hadn't made the move down under.
- Work: People may regret not following a different career path and pursuing their dream jobs. Or they may regret turning down job offers or promotions. For example, you dread going into your office job everyday and frequently wish you had not turned down the opportunity to be a co-owner in your own business.
- Family: People may regret not settling disputes with a family member or friend, especially if the other person passed. Or they may regret not spending more time with older family members. For example, you moved across the country for your spouse’s job. You never made enough effort to stay connected to your grandmother through calls or visits. Now that your grandmother has passed, you regret not putting more effort into staying connected.
- Children: People may regret starting a family. For example, you started a family because you wanted to make your spouse's dream come true. 1 year later, you are getting no enjoyment from parenthood and your relationship with your partner has suffered for it, you wish daily you had become a dog foster like you wanted to. Keep in mind however that many Mom and Dads experience postpartum depression following the birth of a baby, get professional help if you think you might have this.
- Marriage: People may regret the timing of their marriage or their choice of partner. Some may even regret getting married at all. For example, you married your husband/wife because your family liked and approved of them. After 5 years of marriage, you have found that you share no interests. You often think about what your life would have been like if you had married your long-time girl/boyfriend who your parents did not like.
Overcoming Regret Using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).CBT exercises teach you to change your habits and patterns of thinking. You can soon start changing your feelings of regret, shame, and anger. Instead, you'll focus on emotionally healing any harmful, unproductive thoughts you have.
- CBT works to reduce and replace your feelings of regret and anxiety, instead of simply telling yourself to stop thinking about the past.
Write down your regrets.With regret, people often wonder “why” they acted or didn’t act, and this is often where people become stuck.List your regrets and any questions you keep asking yourself. For example, you might wonder why you acted the way you did.Go through your list and change the "why" questions into "what's next?" This will help you overcome the feeling of being stuck.
- For example: You might ask yourself, "Why did I snap at my child so much last week?" For "What's next?" you could say that you know you have very little patience left after work. In the future you could take a 5 minute break before engaging the children.
Learn your lesson.Regrets can be important learning tools for the future. Try to look for the lessons learned and recognize that life lessons make you wiser. For example, if you regret not treating your spouse with respect, you may have learned that disrespecting your spouse makes you feel terrible. Having this knowledge makes you a wiser spouse and person.
Apply what you've learned.What you regret may also be things you have learned about yourself and others. Having this knowledge decreases the chances of making a similar choice in the future. Make sure to apply the wisdom you've gained.
- For example, if you've learned that disrespecting your spouse makes your spouse feel distrustful, don't do it again in the future.
Control how regrets influence your future.While you can not change what happened in the past, you can choose how your past affects your present and future.
- For example, you can't change how much or how often you drank in college, but you can make the choice not to let the regret make you feel guilty now or let it affect your future choices.
Recognize productive regret.Beating yourself up over things beyond your control would be considered unproductive regret. But, productive regret can be positive if you are moved to improve yourself or act on opportunities. Once you're aware of a missed opportunity, be it educational, financial, or emotional, you're more likely to correct the mistake in the future.
- If you find yourself ambivalent about taking a new opportunity, ask yourself if you'd rather worry about a wasted opportunity or take a chance. By trying something new, you're minimizing future regrets.
Moving Beyond Regret
Build empathy for others.You're not the only one feeling regretful about something. Consider what others may be going through. Remember that empathy helps you to better understand the feelings of others. This may require you to challenge your own prejudices and truly listen to others.
- For example, if you regret heavy drinking during your years in college, you may have a deep understanding of how you son feels after a night he's not proud of.
Turn regret into gratitude.You may think about regret in terms of the following statements: "I should have...." "I could have...." "I can't believe I...." "Why didn't I....." Change these statements into statements of gratitude. You'll think about the past differently and start to lose the regret. When you catch yourself thinking a regretful statement, change it to a statement of gratitude. This can help you start thinking about the past in a positive light.
- For example, change "I should have gone to college," to "I am grateful it's not too late to go to college." Or change "I could have tried harder to stop drinking," to "I am grateful that I can try to do better now."
Practice self-forgiveness.Regret can cause resentment towards yourself and others.Instead, learn to forgive yourself. Not only will this reduce your feelings of regret, but it can improve your self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is critical to many areas of your life, including relationships.
- Don't simply try to remove the regret. Instead, own up to your mistakes and feelings, but allow yourself to move on.
Write yourself a letter.The exercise of writing a letter will help you practice forgiving yourself.This emotional and cognitive tool will start to healing your feelings of regret. Write a letter addressed to your younger or past-self and in the letter talk to your younger-self like you might talk to your child or close friend. This will make sure that you are compassionate towards yourself.
- Remind your younger-self that you deserve the best in life even if you made mistakes, because you are human and it is ok to make mistakes.
Practice daily affirmations.An affirmation is a positive statement to encourage, uplift you, and make you more compassionate towards yourself.Having compassion for yourself makes it easier to empathize and forgive your past-self, which can reduce feelings of regret. Tell yourself, write, or think the affirmations. Some examples of affirmations include:
- I am a good person and deserve the best despite my past.
- I am human and make mistakes, and that is ok.
- I have learned a lot from my past, and I am worthy of a bright future.
QuestionIs it true that everyone feels regret at one time or another?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, everyone makes at least one very bad decision at some point in life, it's inevitable. Looking back on this bad decision will likely cause regret.Thanks!
QuestionI am getting married next month and I am constantly regretting popping the question but my partner is happy.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGetting married when one or both parties is unhappy to do so never ends well. Be upfront with your soon to be spouse about your worries. While it may be hard to split up or put things on hold, it would be worse if you were to tie the knot, have your spouse find out you are unhappy and go through divorce.Thanks!
QuestionI regret leaving a note in my crush's locker because he showed it to everyone. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWell, there's isn't much you can do about him reading the note to other people, but you can control your response to it. You have nothing to be ashamed of - crushes are natural and expressing those feelings to someone takes a lot of bravery. I think you should have a serious talk with your crush about what he did and how it made you feel. After talking to him and letting him know how much it hurt you, forget about it and move on. Everyone else will forget too, eventually.Thanks!
QuestionI regret breaking my mother's trust in me. What would be the best way to remedy this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerArrange a meeting with her, apologize to her about whatever broke her trust and ask for forgiveness. Eventually, she will forgive you and start trusting you again. You may have to prove your trustworthiness for a while through your words and actions, however.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I forget my awful wedding?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat can be hard because we're all taught it is supposed to be the best day of your life, when in actual fact it is often filled with stress, misbehavior from some guests and errors in the arrangements that spoil your expectations. Horrendous things often happen at weddings also because they are huge family gatherings. The dysfunctional parts are often unfolded and dramatized by the addition of . . . alcohol! It is best to accept that it turned out as it did and have a laugh in hindsight. Try to remember that many couples consider that their "wedding disasters" give character to their wedding and allow for an unforgettable story that can be passed down and (hopefully) laughed about in years to come.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I overcome past sexual experiences that I got involved in when I was depressed?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou can turn it into a learning experience by saying "I know it was wrong and I will not make the same mistake again". Also, be forgiving of choices you made when you weren't in such a great place mentally. Live and learn.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get the thoughts and regrets out of my head? I feel so guilty that I don't want to be myself and want to be someone else who is more pure and innocent!wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou cannot change who you are, but you can make yourself a better person. Help others who are going through a similar situation.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get over not getting a good score in physical education?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's hard getting a bad score in something you love doing, but you should not regret it and let it ruin the rest of the season. Instead, learn from it and try harder at physical education next time! Each fail in a subject is a guidepost to achieving much better things down the track.Thanks!
QuestionMenopause has struck, and I regret not having a third child. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you wish you had expanded your family beyond two, try using a surrogate, adopting, or becoming a foster parent. There are other ways besides pregnancy to have a baby.Thanks!
QuestionI still think about what I am missing by not being with her. How do you fix that?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRelax, do something you enjoy. Do you remember what your life was like before "her"? If you were happy then, live your life like that. Life has no space for regrets and your regrets may turn into something better, such as finding a new pathway in life and discovering new friends and loves.Thanks!
- You can not change what happened in the past, but you can choose how your past affects your present and future.
- Remember that sometimes you are actually harsher with yourself.
- Visualize yourself acting and doing things as you move forward and leave your regrets behind.
- Seek out support groups or a counselor in order to discover how you can get relief from regret.
- Help needy people as a volunteer or support a charity so that you can stand back from your own life for a while.
- Write down how you feel about the person you hate and crumble the paper and throw it harshly.
- Remember everyone makes mistakes, you are not the only one.
- Everything happens for a reason so go on and forget the past. Thinking about the past will do you no good.
- You know sometimes its hard to forget a thing which interfere your progress in future but we have to try to forget it by involving in other things like joining our friends party, listening to music, etc.
- If at any point your regret turns into severe depression, abnormal withdrawal, self-harming, or suicidal thoughts, please contact a doctor, psychologist, counselor, psychiatrist, suicide hot line, mental health phone line, or somebody that you trust completely. You are not alone and there is help out there.
- If you are feeling regret because someone did something to you, realize that you are not to blame. But, make sure that you tell the police (and your parents if you're young) so that person who hurt you will be stopped from hurting you and other victims.
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