Do you have regrets about your past, decisions you have made or how you have treated someone? Here’s how to deal with regret so that you can move on…
Dictionary.com defines regret as â??a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfactionâ?, or â??a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, or disappointmentâ?.
Everyone has regrets about something.
At times the regret is a deep, painful wound
After a loved one dies suddenly, for instance, you may regret that the two of you had a fight the last time you spoke. This memory may make healing from your bereavement harder than it would have been otherwise.
Other times regret is a barely noticeable scratch on the surface of the skin
You might, for instance, feel momentary regret about under-tipping a good server because you were short on cash, but by the end of the day, you probably will have forgotten the entire incident.
Sometimes we feel regret for things that we have not done
We can also feel regret for letting ourselves down in some way. If you always wanted to be a concert pianist, but instead took business classes to please your parents, you may regret this missed opportunity to find out whether or not you had the talent to be a performer.
Sometimes regret is based on poor choices
If you lost your temper and screamed at your kids, for instance, you are right to feel a twinge of regret. Other times, however, you may feel regret for something you played no part in.
One woman I know invited her parents to her house for Christmas dinner. On the way, they were involved in a fatal car crash. She is convinced that their deaths are all her fault and constantly regrets inviting them over that day.
Dealing with regret
When it comes to dealing with regret, you first need to be clear about what type of regret youâ??re dealing with.
Are you sorry for something you did to yourself or to someone else? And if you look at things logically, are your feelings of regret deserved or undeserved?
If you are in the wrong and your behaviour harmed someone else, offer that person a sincere apology. If you can make amends, do so. If you dropped your friendâ??s favourite vase, for instance, you could replace it with a vase that looked the same or similar.
Sometimes there is no chance to apologise
Sometimes, as in the case of arguing with a loved one who died before you could make up, there is no chance to apologise.
In this case, it might help to write a letter to the person who has died
Writing the letter will give you a chance to express your deep love and to acknowledge that whatever angry words you might have said do not reflect your true feelings.
Finally, forgive yourself
Most people donâ??t set out to deliberately cause damage to themselves or others – it is often unintentional. No one is perfect, and you donâ??t have to spend your entire life atoning for one mistake or another.
Sometimes, when you look at the situation, you may decide that your behaviour and choices were completely appropriate. In that case, you can empathize with a person who feels harmed or upset, but donâ??t allow anyone – including yourself – to force you to accept responsibility for something you didnâ??t do.