Mornings for me used to be hitting the snooze button and trying to stay in bed as long as possible, fantasising about how life could’ve been. That was way easier than facing the day. I just wanted to escape the monotony of getting up, going to work, going home, watching TV and going to bed.
I remember there being certain moments in my life that I could’ve made a change and I didn’t. I was too scared to go up and talk to the girl or cute guy and make friends. I was too worried about what people would think of me, to go for the job I really wanted. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone and so I tried to live under the radar, to fit in, to let life and others decide for me.
That worked for a while but over time it felt like all the little decisions, all the times I tried to fit in and keep myself small, had started adding up. Instead of brushing off the feeling that I wasn’t really being true to myself, that I’m not really living up to my potential, I had started to resent my life. I started to think that there were a lot of little things I could’ve done along the way that would’ve meant I’d be feeling differently, maybe happier or more proud of myself. I felt as if I had wasted so much time, and I just couldn’t make up for it, even if I started now.
When was the last time that you felt genuinely happy?
If you can’t remember the last time or that last time seems too long ago, then you may be holding on to resentments. When it comes to dealing with life and everything that is involved in it, you may find yourself feeling helpless with emotions revolving around anger, fear, frustration, guilt or regret. It can make sense to look for ways to find quick fixes and soothe the angry or hurtful moments. Quick fixes are usually temporary and it takes something extra to more permanently get out of the negative emotions related to regret.
For me, I got to the point of looking back and seeing so many moments of regret, of things not going as I had planned and of not being happy, that I knew I had to make a change. It was almost like I didn’t remember how to be happy. I’d do the things that I used to do to be happy but it wouldn’t work. It was almost like the way that I used to do life wasn’t working. There had to be a new approach but I didn’t know what it looked like, didn’t know what step to take first.
Getting out of regret
Has anyone ever told you to “let go”, “get over it”, and “move on”? Or maybe you have told yourself to turn a new page and forget about the past. It’s easier said than done and can sometimes take more than a couple words to move forward.
Do you want help with Sadness, Procrastination, Self-Sabotage, Confidence or Motivation?
A friend of mine reminded me that every decision I have ever made, had made sense to me at the time. That I was making the best decision I could in that moment, and that even though now looking back, I may wish to have chosen a different path or made a different choice, right now the only thing I can do is make a different choice in this moment.
I can choose to be angry, upset, hurt, guilty and have regrets or I can use all of these emotions to motivate me to make a new decision. To accept where I am right now and choose to grow beyond my current conditions. The first time I heard that, it wasn’t easy to hear and it took some considering. I pondered over it for some time, until I decided to accept where I was so that I could move forward.
Building stepping stones
I started writing down, not all the things I regretted but what I had learned along the way. What were the useful lessons and growth I had now because of the choices I had made.
I had learned that I really valued the friendships I had, that some had been tested and as a result we had grown closer. I remembered that while maybe I wasn’t confident enough when I was younger to go out and meet people that I did the best I could at the time to keep being social when I could. I noticed that what had sometimes seemed like a bad decision in the past (like not walking up to someone to introduce myself, or not taking the job I really wanted, or not keeping as much in contact with friends) that often I learned a valuable lesson that made me stronger.
I started to notice that I was writing traits that I had and that I was proud of, things that I admired in myself. I even started writing down the times that I didn’t want to do something (like run in the morning, or meet up with a friend), but that when I did them, actually turned out to be the best thing that I did for myself at the time.
Piece by piece it was like I was building a brick wall behind my back so I could support myself moving forward, a wall within myself that supported my growth instead of the wall I used to have to hide behind.
There are positive learnings in every experience
Have you ever read ‘Think & Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill? I still read this book over and over and have taken so many valuable learnings from it. In it, he mentioned that every experience has a seed of equivalent benefit, meaning that there is always something positive to learn.
When a tree falls in the forest the equivalent benefit is that the wood can be used for firewood to keep people warm, the trunk and branches of the tree provide shelter or homes for animals and insects. There is always something to learn or appreciate from every situation. It may not be easy to see straight away but if you can have the strength to look for it, it’s often there. Sometimes it took sharing my story with another person, to help me see the situation from a different perspective.
The more I learned about myself, the more I was able to grow from the regret to having the strength of character to face whatever was coming. I appreciated the feeling of the regret sometimes and used it along with the increased awareness and knowledge of myself as fuel to propel me forward.
It’s what has helped me to make the changes I wanted to and to be the best version of myself as I continue to learn and grow as a person. I no longer have regrets, because I know that in any situation, I will always be learning from it and taking that with me as I grow.