D.I.Y. Therapy: Why is Regret so powerful??

Regret and remorse have been such powerful emotions in my life. These keep me stuck in the past, unable to move forward and enjoy my journey. I have an unhealthy habit of living in my head, in the past. Whether it’s something that happened a few days ago or years ago, some experiences have been difficult to release. I recently was mired in regret after allowing all the negatives of life to become more important than the positives.

One of my favorite cousins died, one of my sisters was in the hospital and a newer friend attempted suicide. This was on top of the stress I felt about more “simpler” problems. I felt sad, unloved and overwhelmed. And my reaction was all funneled directly to my closest friend. Basically I was a jerk. Of course in my head at the time this friend was at fault. I had built up every little thing they did and said into a mountain of hurt and I was the victim. I wallowed there so long that we didn’t talk for a few weeks and then I felt so much sadness at the thought of losing this friend. That’s when the pain became extra strong. “Wasn’t it bad enough to lose my cousin? How could I lose my friend too!”  I started thinking about the situation and reviewing my actions.

Suddenly the clouds cleared and I could see that this friend had not actually done anything to deserve how I treated them.

I understood that I was choosing to react to life in an unhealthy way. In a way that I had promised myself I wouldn’t do anymore. Once again I was stuck in old patterns. I went from sadness and grief from all the pain of the summer to a much more inward feeling of disappointment and shame. Looking back it was obvious to me that if I had taken the chance to communicate in the beginning none of this would have happened! In my search for healing I found a very helpful meditation video on regret that guided me through such a difficult time. It’s called “Meditation on Regret and Self Forgiveness” and is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/g0bRq_WUkKs

Here are the insights I received from the video.

  • Step One:
  • What did I feel at the time of this regretful situation? Sadness, anger and fear.
  • Was there malice or intent attached to it?  No, I wasn’t trying to be mean. I felt victimized.
  • Why am I attached to it?  Because it feels so wrong and unnecessary.
  • How can I let go of expectations? I can communicate with others instead of expecting them to somehow understand what I need or feel.
  • Step Two:
  • Is there a permanent negative impact on my life and others? – Maybe, but I don’t feel like there really is.
  • Why is the regret still with me? Because it was an awful way to act.
  • Can I remedy the situation now in the present? Yes, I can apologize and if needed make it up to my friend.
  • If not, how can I apply lessons to live consciously, accept it and move forward so I don’t repeat this regret? If they don’t want to accept my apology than I can be conscious of how I treat people now and in the future. I can stay aware of when I’m not communicating and I can improve healthy communication skills.

Luckily I was able to apologize to my friend and let go of the regret rather easily, but what if that person no longer wanted to be my friend? I’d like to believe that I would carry the remorse for a while, but eventually let go of all pain from that time in my life and be a compassionate person.

What this summer has taught me is that I really am in control of how I react to real or perceived threats. I obviously have to stay aware of my ability to not communicate and my habit of living in the past. I refuse to live in the past because regret is an easy way to avoid lessons and accountability. I want to own up to my actions.  Regret creates untrue thoughts that “the current state of emotion or situation will never change”. I’ve been alive long enough to know this isn’t true. Everything constantly changes, including me. Please remember that regret is born from knowing now what you didn’t know then. Be self-compassionate.  When you are faced with regret take it as an opportunity to reflect on whether your actions line up with your beliefs.

What do you think of this post?

Do you have regrets holding you back?

How do you heal from regret?

*Like this??? Read more D.I.Y. Therapy Posts. **

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One comment

  1. […] quite an awful spring I was beginning to feel so depressed that I treated a friend rather badly (read my post on regret) and put serious strain on our relationship. This summer I learned that I still need a lot of work […]

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