Today my biggest regret…is having regrets.
The cost of regret
Whether they come in the form of “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” or “I just wasn’t!/what was I?/ thinking” or just plain “why?”, regrets are an incredibly insomnia inducing, paralyzing time-suck. A huge part of negative self-talk, long term regret can fuel stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which in case it hasn’t been hammered into your head by now, can cause serious health risks from diabetes (yes, depression can cause diabetes) high blood pressure, and obesity, all of which feed each other’s worst greedy habits. And it’s not just the other guy that gets it. The danger is real.
Plus, it stops you from living in the present and prevents you from focusing on what you need right now, be that a delicious meal, a moment of solitude, a laugh with a good friend – things you can savor, if only for a moment, and that go a long way toward enriching your life. Wouldn’t those things be nicer to remember than the things that might have come to pass if only you had/hadn’t…?
Consolidate your regrets
The purpose behind this exercise is acknowledging and letting go. One way of starting the process is writing down the regrets that are on your mind. Writing things down gets them out of your head and heart – at least for the moment.
- Write down the regrets that come to mind, each on a separate piece of paper.
- Take the pieces of paper you have written on and put them in a paper bag.
- When you have a quiet moment, sit with the paper bag filled with your regrets. Breathe. Appreciate the fact that you are ready to start moving forward in a more positive way
- Destroy the bag by burning it and its contents, if you can do it safely. Otherwise you can empty the bag of its contents, and shred each regret, return them all to the bag and dispose of the bag outside of your living space.
…starts with you. Acknowledge the fact that you made the best decision you could at the time. If something like immaturity, emotional upset or addiction contributed to poor decision, be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. You can’t move on with the weight of your world dragging you down. Self compassion doesn’t always come easy. Self compassion is not self pity, nor is it self indulgence. Practicing self compassion takes a commitment.
Habits are hard to change. Especially when come in the form of thinking Automatic Negative Thoughts. Burning your bag of regrets is a symbolic first step toward a more positive mindset.
Understanding that forgiving yourself is vital for change is the concrete first step to your regret recovery.
Now you need to get down to the work of eliminating those negative thoughts, and where better to start than with the organ that controls every single function in your body, the brain?
Dr. Daniel Amen is an expert in brain health and he has developed this great system for killing not only those regrets but also other habitual negative thinking as well. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Do you regret not telling somebody something while you had the chance? Forgive yourself for being too lazy, too busy, too angry, too scared, too confused, or prevented by life circumstances. Write them a letter today and become part of the healing art project, What I Never Told You. Mail it to:
P.O. Bx 281
Morristown, NJ 07963
When you heal yourself, you heal the world.