How often do you regret something from the past, and what kind of regrets do you have? Are you remorseful? Do you regret things often?
Regret leads to suffering, and here’s why.
When we regret, we look backwards at the past, which is done and over, and we are wanting something to be different. When we want, we are saying that we are deficient and that we are lacking. When we look back and say, "I want to do that differently," "I wish I would have done that differently," "I wish I didn’t say that," "I wish I did do that," we are saying, things are not good enough right now because of what happened in the past. Things are somehow missing and incomplete because of what we did back then, which is over and doesn’t exist anymore.
In essence, what we are doing is bringing into our future a state of lack that actually doesn’t need to be there. The past is done, the present is right now, and the future has not yet arrived. Right now, in the present moment, everything is okay! You are whole. You are complete. If you want a sure way to feel broken, regret the past.
I don’t know anyone who is generally a happy or satisfied person who lives in regret of the past. In fact, most people who have achieved great things in their lives and who have really positive attitudes are the people who have taken things from the past and used them for their benefit. That’s an idea! Let’s use the past to appreciate and refine who we are now.
When we are young, we’re all over the place. We’re learning about ourselves, we’re learning about life. It’s like a pinball game and we are the ball, just bouncing all over the place, all over the place through life experiences, “Ouch that hurt. That hurts.” Boom, boom, boom! Each time we bounce on something it gives us the chance to refine ourselves, and refine our lives. We bounced on that, it didn’t feel good, “You know what I’m not going to bounce on that again.” If you said or did something in your past, or didn’t say or do something that you wished you would have, that is cause for celebration! Because, what it does is gives you new information and allows you to sculpt yourself to do what you do want to do.
If you didn’t like the way you talked to someone back there that gives you information. “I want to talk to them kindly from now on.” We’re all going to make mistakes. We’re all going to have flaws. We don’t do things perfectly, but once you have that information, knowledge is power, and you move forward in a more refined way with more finesse. That’s why the aging process is so beautiful, because even though our bodies are leaving the earth one day our souls grow and our souls see that we are actually perfect beings, and we can go through that stream in a state of finesse.
The more things that happen in your past, the more experiences that give you that information, the more you can refine yourself. The more you can create your own life. When you find yourself stuck in regret, “I wish I said that,” “I wish I didn’t do that,” “Oh shoot, I might have made a mistake,” “Why did I do that,” you can change it in the moment, and if you change it, it will end your suffering just like that.
The way that you do that is to say, "If that did not feel good what can I do differently, right now?" Also, trust yourself. You did the best you could at that time with what you had. You did great! No regrets! No, no, no regrets! That’s my wish for you.
Heather Hans, LCSW, MSW, MBA, CPIC, is a Visionary, Healer & Teacher, and the author of The Heart of Self-Love: How to Radiate with Confidence. It is Heather's firm belief that loving oneself is necessary to have fulfilling relationships and a successful life.