How to Let Go of Your Regrets
This post is about how to let go of your regrets.
Life is too short to dwell on all your mistakes and failures, therefore I have collected 5 powerful tips to help you let go of your regrets.
I know a guy who is an extremely negative person who constantly dwells in the past and beats himself up mentally over his mistakes.
Whenever anybody would speak to him, he sounds like a broken record.
He would often say the following to different people:
“I’ve let everybody down.”
“I can’t get over what I did.”
“I should have done this.”
“I should have done that.”
It is sad to see such a person overthinking so much of their regrets and mistakes.
But what is worse in this guys situation is he has done nothing to rectify them, instead he plays the victim to the point that he wants the world to feel sorry for him.
I too have been known to dwell on my regrets.
I would put my head on the pillow at night before bed, and replay moments where I have done things that were wrong, said things that were hurtful and so on.
I will often shed a tear and weep at what I have done.
Let us define what exactly is a regret?
“to feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that one has done or failed to do).”
I want to make one thing fundamental thing:
We are human, we make mistakes, we are not perfect in the slightest.
We are not superhuman, invincible, we are prone to making errors.
Even the amazing NBA legend Michael Jordan missed thousands of shots in his career, and his famous quote rings true: “you miss the shots you do not take.”
If you want to improve your life and become at peace with yourself, you need to really start letting go of your regrets.
All you are doing is beating yourself down, when life will do a particularly good job of that on its own anyway.
Dwelling in the past is futile, a waste of time, and offers no positive impact on your health and wellbeing.
The past is the past, and as Doc Brown from Back to the Future says: “your future hasn’t been written yet, no one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”
Here are five powerful ways for you to hopefully help you let go of your regrets:
#1 – Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Thoughts
The first way of letting go of your regrets is replacing your negative thinking with more positive and abundant thinking.
Why is this so powerful?
Believe it or not your brain will think you are currently in the situation your mind allows it to be!
So if you are feeling anxious, depressed or stressed about something that may have occurred 10 years ago, your brain will receive the signal that it is happening to you right now.
Your body will become tense.
You will feel aches and pains.
You may experience headaches.
You will struggle to sleep.
You will lose your appetite.
That is why having regular negative thoughts and most importantly dwelling on them can be so detrimental to your health.
So do you need to just ignore the thoughts and think positively?
Not exactly, what you must do is twist it in a more positive way.
I will give you a very personal example.
I remember I had to send my father to the hospital as he was extremely ill at home.
It was a difficult call, nobody else was willing to call an ambulance for him, so the responsibility lay entirely on my shoulders.
I sent him to hospital assuming he would be back in a week or so fully recovered.
Sadly, it did not work out that way.
He unfortunately got worse, and I am sorry to admit he passed and is no longer with us.
For a while afterwards I was dwelling on my regret “why did I do that to him, he would never have died had I just left him at home.”
Then I replaced that thinking with more of a positive outlook.
“This was a difficult situation, I was brave enough to make that call, I tried to save his life, I did the best I could for him, it was better than doing nothing at all.”
I do not have all the answers as why my father did not make it.
But what I am in control of is how I respond (not react) to the difficult situation.
I know this is a very extreme and personal example, but I want you to hopefully use this story to inspire you that you can overcome your regrets.
Look for the positive in your scenario, there is one, and if you struggle to find one then just make one up the best you can.
#2 – Channel Your Pain into Self Improvement
When you are most likely dwelling on a mistake or regret an immensely powerful way of countering this is to channel that pain into improving yourself.
Sometimes getting rejected or making a mistake can be the steppingstone for something more incredible to come your way.
As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another one opens.”
I remember a guy who was in a 5-year relationship with the love of his life had on one fateful afternoon found his girlfriend in bed with another man.
Not sure how to react he screamed with rage and packed his bags and left never to look back at her.
For months he could not get the image out of his head of his beloved girlfriend in bed with somebody else.
He was furious and so hurt regretting that he had left her so abruptly.
He would stomp around, he would shout, he had a noticeably short fuse indeed.
And one day when he was full of rage over something trivial at his job a colleague told him about a gym he should check out on the weekend.
This specific gym specialized in boxing.
His colleague said to him, “I think you should channel your anger into boxing, it will make you fit and you will enjoy it.”
This guy did exactly that, and he hired a trainer and trained straight away.
His trainer asked him why he wanted to box, to which he replied, “because I left my girlfriend and I am so angry about it, I got to release it somehow.”
The trainer cleverly used this as motivation, and every punch into the training bag he told him to “imagine you are fighting the man who slept with your ex!”
The transformation of this guy was something out of a movie, he trained every single day, to the point where he was touted to be participate in an amateur fighter.
Sure enough he did just that and he even ended up winning that very fight!
And with blood and sweat dripping down his face as he exited the ring, a beautiful woman came up to him congratulating him and asking for his phone number.
They are now married with kids.
The point of this extremely specific story is channelling your pain into improving yourself.
What is something you always wanted to do?
Where is somewhere you always wanted to go?
What is something you always wanted to learn?
Take the pain of regret and your mistakes and make it your motivation, every time you feel hurt or upset, channel it into your new skill or hobby.
You will be amazed at what you will go on to accomplish if you do this well.
#3 – Re-evaluate Your Life
The next step to letting go of your regrets is to start re-evaluating your whole life.
This can the following:
Often when we dwell on the past it is because either we are scared to make the necessary changes to improve on them, or we are completely lost.
Are you feeling lost currently?
Life happens to us all I am afraid.
And without the mental space and clarity we are often privy to making the same mistakes and more repeatedly.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes.
When was the last time you evaluated your life?
When was the last time you sat down and really looked at what is going on?
Here are some important questions to ask yourself to evaluate your life:
Where will I be in 5 years if I keep heading in this direction?
How have I grown?
What have I allowed the “failures” in my life to teach me?
What is my why?
Do I see myself being married or would I be ok with a committed relationship?
Do I choose happiness or leave it to chance?
What am I profoundly grateful for?
Am I who I want to be?
What would happen if I forgave him/her/them?
What are my values and am I being true to them?
Have I experienced enough of other cultures?
Do I worry too much about what others think of me?
#4 – No Guarantees in Life
Sadly, I know this is cliché but there are only two guarantees in life:
Death and taxes.
I wish this were not the case, I genuinely do, but sadly this is the way.
What has this got to do with letting go with my regrets?
By coming to grips with there being no guarantees in life that will hopefully eliminate or at least tone down the immense pressure you are putting on yourself.
By constantly overthinking and dwelling on your errors, you are doing the following:
You are making out you are perfect and should not be full of mistakes.
EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES!
The real understanding here is if you are not making any mistakes and living a life of regrets then really you are not really living at all.
I have often used this quote in plenty of my articles as I love it so much:
“If you do what is easy your life will be hard, however if you continue to do what is hard then your life will become easier.”
You need to understand that with no guarantees that basically means you can afford to make a mistake.
You can mess things up.
You can screw things up.
You can get things wrong.
You can be a human being.
Now there is a fundamental difference between doing things once or twice and consistently making the same mistakes over and over.
What I want you to please take away from this point is you are human.
Nobody is putting you under pressure but yourself.
It is an illusion to believe it’s your parents, spouse, or your boss.
It lies with you.
It is your responsibility.
You are responsible for how you respond to life.
You are in control of your character.
You are in control of your personality.
You are the captain of your fate, the master of your destiny!
Take comfort in knowing that regardless of what you have done up to this point the only real guarantee in life is death and taxes, anything else is a bonus.
#5 – Be More Grateful
The very last step in letting go of your regrets is practicing gratitude daily.
Let me go back to the story of the guy who became a boxer after finding his girlfriend cheating on him.
When I last spoke to him, he told me the following:
“If I didn’t find out she was cheating I never would.
So I am glad I found out, I really am!
I’d hate to live a life believing otherwise.
I have become healthier, fitter, tougher and now have a beautiful family and am grateful.”
Before he regretted leaving her because he thought they could work things out, but then he became grateful for all he had gone on to achieve.
Instead of dwelling on your mistakes start looking around at what you actually do have.
You have experience behind you.
You have hopefully learnt from your mistakes.
You know what to avoid in the future.
You know how to handle yourself better.
Ultimately life is about living for the now and bargaining with the future.
- Start thinking more positively.
- Channel pain into improvement.
- Re-evaluate your life.
- There are no guarantees in life.
- Be more grateful.