MENOMINEE – Many people throughout their lives have accumulated regrets. These regrets may come from things said or not said; actions taken or not taken. These “should have, would have” thoughts attach themselves to our psyche like metal to magnets.
For some of us, these regrets affect our psyche so much that they begin to weigh heavily and affect our daily lives. Some spend hours and days dwelling about how things might have been. This is a squandering of time, because you can’t change the past; but, sometimes you can use what you have learned and not repeat past mistakes.
Here are a few suggestions to unchain yourself from some of the burdens of regret. The use of the acronym F.A.C.T. (Forgive and Forget, Awareness, Cancel Negative Thoughts, Time) may aid you in the resolution of your regrets and increase your insight on your approach with others.
1. Forgive and Forget – First, you need to forgive yourself for what had happened and ask for forgiveness from those whom you have hurt. Second, stop dwelling about what had happened and move forward. File the situation in your memory so that you don’t repeat the same thing.
2. Awareness – Understanding what makes us function and how we interact with people is essential. This can enable us to avert situations of regret in the future. For example, instead of regretting some of the decisions that you made, acknowledge that most decisions were made with the best available information at the time. Avoid “instant decisions”.
3. Cancel Negative Thoughts – Once you have made amends and resolved your regret do not go over it again and again. Only then are you on your way to putting it behind you.
4. Time – Take the time to analyze what happened. Ask yourself questions like: Why did I or didn’t I do that?; What prompted me to react that way?; or even, How could I have said that? or How would I feel in the other’s place?
To sum it up, place your regrets at rest. We have one life to live; so move forward and enjoy it.
Dan Paul is a retired school administrator. His columns, which explore family relationships, are published monthly in Lifestyles.