The Positive Side to Regret
A lot has happened since the day my life flipped inside out and upside down. And I can honestly say I'm blown away with the continued positives that come from having that type of experience. If you've heard me speak, you might know that I'm passionate about a few things, but in particular, death and regret. Not to be negative, but because I've seen first hand how so many great things can come from both of these experiences.
I've learn't that ALL experiences, whether positive or negative, can offer opportunities for both growth and decline in our lives. And what we experience, or hone from something largely comes down to how we respond to what is going on.
When things don't go so well, we have a couple of options. One, is to get emotionally connected - hook into the downside of what is going on, followed by getting upset, frustrated, angry, disappointed (or some of the other million not so great emotions out there...), or two, we can step back, assess the situation and look for something good that can come out of what is going on. Often, there's a processing or grief period to go through depending on the size of the circumstance, and it's so important to go through that, but after some time we should be able to step back emotionally and start to decide what we are going to take out of the experience.
I've also learned is that regret can greatly help us. We often think of regret as a negative thing, and whilst I am on a mission to eliminate it from our lives, there is actually some positive that we can pull from it. For example regret can:
Help us to understand our past and how to influence our future
Whilst we might not need to look far to be reminded of our past regrets, they can help us to see patterns or behaviours that we have in our lives which are subconsciously influencing us. Behaviours that without us realising, are keeping us from stepping outside of our box, or pushing on towards a better life. So if we can identify regret, we can also identify the behaviour associated with it, then actively avoid that behaviour to prevent further layers of future regret, or giving it space to grow bigger within our lives.
Research shows that up to 95%* of us have regret, and many of us are letting it make decisions for us. Whether that's due to fear, a long term perspective, or a resistance to change our thoughts or memories, it can be difficult to address what and why we regret something. But once we do identify it, we can do something about it! And just like when we address fear, things get super exciting for a while, and then boom, the situation suddenly starts to lose it's power, and we start feel amazing. We start to feel like we can take on the world. By embracing regret, we actually dis-empower it's negative aspects and can take back the control of the things it was holding us back from.
Regret can highlight our core values and areas of life to learn more about
What we regret, and the extent in which we regret can often have a direct correlation to our core values. For example, someone who has a strong core value of relationships, might find it a lot harder to let go of a regret around not taking a chance at a romantic opportunity, than they would over making a poor purchase decision. The things in our lives which hold the most regret, are therefore likely connected to our core values. When we look at our values, identify our regret, and see how the two might influence each other, we can often learn more about ourselves, and which areas of our lives to place more awareness/learning into.
Regret can help us to see reality
Regret is really good at creating memories or scenarios which are in fact not real. It can help us to believe we missed out on a better life, a better outcome, or situations which aren't quite factual. Regret can tell things like that if we had bought that house all those months ago that our life would have turned out easier, been more organised, and even less stressful. Something like a happy TV advert. Regret can create a romantic version of what could have been (but in fact probably never would have been!), and trick us into believing how much we have missed out on. And this can lead on to sabotaging our current circumstance because we don't believe they can be as good as what we once missed out on. But by addressing our regrets, we can focus in on reality, let go of those romantic ideas, and give ourselves a break. Just because we missed out on an opportunity, doesn't mean that life would have been better!
Regret is a powerful emotion. We all experience it in life, and it has the ability to control our thoughts and behaviour. HOWEVER... I truly do believe we can all live a life free of regret. But that it comes down to decision. Decisions to forgive, to change, to let go of the past. Our past can control us if we let it, but our past can also empower us for great things in our future if we are bold enough to address and understand our regrets.
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