It’s impossible to go through life without regrets.We’ve all made mistakes that haunt us for years, whether it’s staying in an unhealthy relationship, saying something hurtful to a friend, or walking away from an enticing job opportunity. While it’s normal to regret the mistakes we’ve made, we have to get past them. Otherwise, we’re putting our future happiness at risk.
But there are ways to move past your regrets and maybe even come to peace with them. If you are regretting a mistake you have made, here are some steps you can take to move past it:
Apologize. One of the main feelings that accompanies regret is guilt, plain and simple. We may have made the mistake of acting badly and hurting others. Even though it can be scary to bring up heated issues from the past, apologizing is a huge step towards getting rid of your regret. By apologizing to the people you hurt, you are taking responsibility for your mistake and opening up the possibility of change. You can’t control how they will react, but even if they don’t respond positively, you have taken a very important step in moving past your guilt.
Practice Mindfulness. When you live your life regretting the past, you are by definition not living in the moment. Cultivating a sense of mindfulness will allow you to learn to live in the present moment – that is, enjoying each moment for what it is, with a non-judgmental attitude. Try signing up for a meditation class, or get a guided meditation CD to get started. Meditation will also help you learn to observe your regret rather than be consumed by it.
Allow Yourself To Grieve. When you allow yourself to fully feel the burden of the mistakes you have made, it’s painful. Often we spend our lives trying to avoid negative emotions rather than conquer them head-on. Even though it will be unpleasant, you should allow yourself to experience these feelings fully. By doing so, you’ll be able to eventually move past them.
Focus On The Positive. Mistakes are generally labeled “bad” or “wrong,” but see if you can view your mistake from a different angle. Is there anything you have learned from your mistake? Is there any wisdom that you gained from it? Perhaps you’ve been focusing on only the negative. If you can, find the silver lining that came out of the situation. If anything, your mistake has led you to learn what not to do in the future.
Forgive Yourself. It’s easier said than done, but finding a way to forgive yourself for your mistake is a radical form of self-compassion that allows you to be kind to yourself, rather than focusing on what you did wrong. Remember that no matter how terrible your feel your mistake was, we all mess up sometimes – in very big ways. The best thing we can do is to recognize this and be kind and gentle with ourselves.
Move Forward. When all is said and done, the only thing we can do is to keep on moving forward – so do this with gusto! Make a plan of action that will help inspire you or bring you to peace. There doesn’t have to be any particular goal here, and it’s okay if your plan has nothing at all to do with your past mistakes. The goal is to find something, now or in the future, that will allow you to focus your attention away from your regrets. This could be as simple as indulging in a new hobby or starting a new fitness routine, or something deeper, like fostering an important relationship.