How to Tackle the Negative Side of Regret
Definition of regret
1: sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair
2a: an expression of distressing emotion (such as sorrow)
a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.
All of us have made bad decisions.
Some of us admit those bad decisions.
What is important is how one wears the same bad decisions.
These decisions are not the best companions. They tend to bring dark moods, negative hateful comments, and remind us out of nowhere of every single detail of the bad decision.
Bad decisions have two different sides. One being the rough and tough side and the other being the humble softer side.
The rough and tough side is evident to others from far away. It shoves people away with its bitterness and resentment. It is accompanied by a deep seeded anger, sometimes covered up by the actions of a victim. This side of the bad decisions finds itself alone, miserable, fearful, depressed, and stuck. This is the side that enjoys licking its wound or pouring salt in the same wound over and over again.
The softer side exhibits a humble attitude. This side has an unstoppable resilience, innate faith, and a raw vulnerability. This side acknowledges the mistake and is open to learning and growing from the mistake. This same side prohibits denial, excuses, justification and negativity. Others are attracted to this humble, honest, unassuming, and genuine side.
We all have a choice in which side of regret we nurture.
We can decide to allow the bad decision to define us or we can become tougher, stronger, humbler, and own our crappy mistakes.
Not many people want to hear about others regrets…well, not over and over again. Not many people are attracted and feel warm and fuzzy when hearing about “poor pitiful me”.
How to Tackle the Negative Side of Regret:
1. Get Beyond Denial:
“That shouldn’t have happened, or I shouldn’t have done that,” Well, it did. Face reality. You can’t change your history. Many people pour years of energy into useless “shouldn’t haves.” The angry pitiful ones endlessly repeat that their ex-spouses shouldn’t have left them, their parents shouldn’t have overfed them, or their friend caused them to have abandonment issues. Guess what? You are not the only one who has gone through hell.
This is unproductive regret. People use it to avoid scary or difficult action; instead of telling the story of the past in a useful way, they use it as their excuse for staying miserable.
Bad things happen to good people. Trust me, I know this better than most. Most people agree with you. You have undergone a horrific event. They feel it should not have happened. They are on your side. BUT IT DID HAPPEN. People can choose to stay stuck and miserable or move forward much stronger and wiser.
2. Understand the Feelings: Sad and Mad
Regret is a combination of sadness and plain pissed off. Realize this and embrace it. You can be extremely sad that your father has died yet pissed he will not be there when you need him. By recognizing both the sadness and the anger, you will find yourself in one of the feelings and this is dysfunctional. “My dad died before I was 15 and it is not fair!” can surround you in only anger and lead to bitterness and playing the victim role for the rest of your life. “My dad died before I was 15 and my life is over.” Suggests you will never get past the sadness and more than likely, you won’t. You will not allow yourself to move forward and be happy without your dad.
Embrace the sadness and anger. Identify and separate the two. You have a right to feel both sadness and anger. Just know the difference. This is an important part of regret. Own your feelings and don’t deny yourself either or you can’t move forward.
3. Grieve What Has Been Lost
Sorrow, sadness, and disappointment are natural reactions to losing anything significant: a dream, possession, person, relationship, career, education, freedom, or an opportunity.
There are stages of Greif and Loss: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance.
Grief and loss stages do not only relate to a death. Allow yourself to go through these stages and recognize them as they appear. Grief and loss is a passage of life that we all must learn in order to live healthy productive lives.
4. Start Over and Reclaim Your Life
Identify what you have lost tied into your regret. Yes, find it. Know what it is because you can reclaim it. NO, it might not be the particular person you lost but you can reclaim your happiness and find a sense of peace in your life. Know what you are seeking and how you want to feel when you find it. Identify these feelings, believing you will experience them again.
Joy; Peace; Happiness; Courage; Love; Enough; Self Esteem; Grace; Wisdom; Discipline; Health; Respect; Peace; Worthiness; Pride
You can’t change the past but you can identify what you feel you lost and go for it in other ways.
5. Kill the Anger
When anger arises know that it is more than likely a well know component in your life. Recognize it and embrace it. Listen to it. Then kill it. Yes, kill it. Go talk to a friend, workout, see a therapist, pray, run, journal, beat a pillow – do something with it. Anger that is not allowed to surface and get the hell out of your life will only foster a bigger worse mistake.
6. Lean Towards Love
Fear fosters regret.
Lean towards what you enjoy, love, and desire. Don’t allow fear to stifle you from trying something new or something you have done in the past that did not work.
Don’t allow fear to get in the way of loving yourself and others. Take chances and be kind to others. Don’t allow fear to feed your insecurities, only to regret decisions later.
Loving yourself starts today.
Don‘t regret not doing so.
If you are feeling stuck and need to talk, I would love to meet you! Email or call anytime to schedule a session. (817) 701-5438 | email@example.com
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach
Empowering individuals, families and communities to grow and heal through advanced approaches in Creative Arts Therapy, setting the standard for treatment, practice and training within the field.