The dynamics of life are complicated, and we are the ones who complicate it.
I listen to people daily who are enveloped in their own shame, guilt, and regret. They seemingly appear to be slowly drowning in a deadly quicksand, regret.
Why do some people experience the slow excruciating pain of beating ourselves up? Is this a familiar place? A “go to” in our minds where we say things to ourselves, we would not say to another human being?
Most of us get infuriated when someone offends, criticizes, or talks poorly about us. We become defensive in a variety of ways. We strike back with words, actions, posts, gestures, or even eliminate them from our life.
So why do we take it upon ourselves to torture ourselves with the mental rehashing of our mistakes, flaws, screw-ups, weaknesses, and choices? It boils down to one thing: the way we think about past choices and life events.
The regret we choose to hold on to cements us to a dark place that becomes unnecessarily stifling. We all know our stupid irrational senseless choices we have made. Holding on to the regrets does none of us any good. Choosing to recognize the mistakes we have made and the lesson learned are linked to the things we wanted at the time. We change as human beings when we make the choice to change. Taking our choices from the past and owning them allows us to learn and move forward.
1. Identify and address your weaknesses.
When we acknowledge our weaknesses, there’s often an implied sense of judgment, as if we should never make any mistakes. We all make mistakes and generally are not sorry for these mistakes until we are caught… in some way or another.
“No pain, no gain.”
Accepting and owning the pain we inquire allows us to use this moment as a learning vessel to finally lead the positive life we deserve.
Sadly, we all wake up in the house we build, and it sucks.
2. Use your mistake as a teaching tool.
Moments, events, circumstances, seasons, years, months, and relationships can all serve a purpose if we allow it.
Forgive yourself without enabling yourself to return or revisit the painful experience.
Know in your heart that you will own your part in the pain and choose to move forward bringing the lesson learned with you without it identifying you.
3. Use the opportunity to become better at adapting.
“Everybody hates change”. Really? Maybe we need to welcome change. Being rigid, non-compromising, and inflexible means one thing: You are controlling and people don’t like it. Guess what? You can’t control anyone but yourself.
4. Strengthen your ability to focus on things you can control.
If you cheated on your boyfriend after one too many margaritas, you probably wish you could go back and show more restraint. You are desperate to prove to him “that was not me” whereas – it was you and you can’t change it.
Unfortunately, what you “should have” done is now irrelevant. All you can do is own it and move forward from where you are.
This is an invaluable skill because it empowers us to take positive action instead of falling into a shame cycle.
5. Embrace impermanence.
Everything in life is fleeting. Our behaviors, thoughts, judgements, gestures, and existence are not permanent. Although our actions do affect others in our life, nothing is permanent. People care about the here and now and rekindling relationships or moving forward does subside after time if you do not keep adding fuel to an already destructive fire.
6. Evaluate your relationships.
Be real and true to yourself. Recognize your stupidity, neediness, daddy issues, mom issues, or whatever it may have been… and own it. Know it was a phase or time in your life you felt the need to do whatever for whatever reason. Know you might need to do some major life restructuring to rebound from whatever you experienced. Don’t blame your friends, family, ex, or the next-door neighbor. Reevaluate your relationships and weed out the ones that offer you negativity or bring you down.
This may also give you a chance to strengthen your relationships. If you hurt someone else, take this opportunity to discover what really motivated your actions and then let yourself get vulnerable with them. We’re all human, and nothing brings us together like acknowledging our universal struggles. Own your crap.
7. Get better at accepting responsibility.
Own your s—t. Still, there’s something empowering about saying, “I screwed up, and I accept the consequences.”
8. Challenge your own thinking.
There’s a quote that reads “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.” My dad used to say, “Becky, you think God is kicking you in the face but he is more than likely kicking you in the butt towards the right direction”. I have seen this over and over again in my life – proving to be true.
If your mistake propels you toward a better future, then it’s actually a blessing in disguise. I realize mistakes oftentimes present challenges, but ultimately, you can only move forward if you find opportunities in your reality, whatever that may be. We typically present our own challenges by holding on to the regret as though we can’t live without it.
The crazy thing about regret is that it seems imperative at times.
We can’t allow the regret to identify us today. Lie in the bed you made, own it, and get out of it.
Dwelling on regret only proves that we remain to sleep in the same hopeless bed that keeps us stuck in lost possibilities with the refusal to focus on new ones.
Staying in the destructive bed is a choice: Do we drown in regret over what never came to be, or get off our butts and make positive things happen today?
Interested in more? I would love to meet to you! Email or call anytime to schedule an in-person or virtual session. (817) 701-5438 | firstname.lastname@example.org
CRT, CCDC, CACC | Counselor & Life Coach