OVERCOME REGRETS: Denise Vogel offers tips to set ourselves free from the past
“Regret – to remember with sense of loss or feeling of having done amiss; to wish otherwise”
— Chambers Dictionary
“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”
— Frank Sinatra, My Way
HOW MANY people can say that? Have you any regrets?
What do you do about these regrets? Do you dwell on them until they fester? Do you ask yourself, ‘what can I do’? Do these regrets stop you taking risks in life?
Are you holding onto missed opportunities, what you should have done, what you could have done, and how things could be different?
There are ways of dealing with a regret, but first of all ask yourself – do you want to deal with your regrets? Regrets can become a noose around your neck and interfere with your life and motivation. They can cause you to be unhappy and to have feelings that you don’t want to have.
Let me ask you this – where is carrying round your disappointments and missed opportunities getting you? What use is it to you to keep these feelings of missed opportunities?
It is much better for you to learn from them. If you are constantly focusing on what you did or didn’t do when will you have time to see what lies ahead.
The late author and political activist Helen Keller once wrote:
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”.
Don’t hold on to your past to the detriment of your future. This takes courage – and a lot of courage – to move on, but it possible. There is always something better ahead and you will not see it if you keep looking behind. And remember, it is never too late.
Take for instance a 70 year-old man, who always wanted a degree – and he went out and got it! How must he have felt? Well, he felt elated, and that the world was his oyster.
Encumbering yourself with ‘what ifs’ will not bring these opportunities back to you. You shouldn’t dwell on missed opportunities, but take in the knowledge that you have gained in return.
I remember watching a series of the reality talent show American Idol. One of the contestants was a young man who, despite his obvious talent, cracked under the pressure of having to perform on the show. He voluntarily took himself out of the running at that point to preserve his sanity. When he walked back into the testing room for this year’s audition, he explained to the judges that he had awakened every day since that fateful decision and had regretted not seeing the competition through. He said that he was there to try out again to prove to himself that he wasn’t a quitter, or to avoid living with any more regrets. He sang his heart out, made it through to the Hollywood round and walked out with tears streaming down his face, saying he had just won, regardless of the final outcome of this year’s show.
Here are some of my tips for dealing with just some – or all – of the regrets you may have:
Don’t look back, look forward
Make friends with your regrets, acknowledge them, accept them and then put them away. Try the ‘no regrets’ approach. Take a step back and see it from a different perspective – what could you have done differently and how can you ensure that what you now regret will not happen again?
Identify what the regret is
Are you distorting the memory? Did you have any responsibility over this regret? Learn from these feelings. Don’t beat yourself up If there is something you can do about it, do it now. Forgive yourself and anyone else that may be involved.
Set yourself a goal
Make a list of any regrets that you may have and deal with them. Some of you reading this article may be feeling the pain of a regret right now and you could be suffering with a sense of torment or anguish because of it. The good news is the freedom from regret is 100 per cent possible. We have a choice – we can choose to wallow in regret about what never came to be and the sadness these feelings bring, or we can use our energy to focus on what can be. Today, I’m choosing the latter.
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