‘If only I had….why didn’t I….How could I?… I wish…..’ Time to let it go and enter this new year with a fresh start. Take Care of yourself.
We carry things from the past year into the new year, that come back to haunt us, affecting our mental wellness. Am talking about REGRET. A word that slips out of our mouths easily…but what do we mean by regret?
Regret is a self-focused negative emotion about something that has happened or been done by us. We feel bad because we did or didn’t do something we believe we should or shouldn’t have done. Given regret involves acknowledging our role in our present circumstances, it also often includes self-blame (Roese & Summerville, 2005).
DON’T STAY STUCK IN REGRET.
Staying stuck in regret has damaging effects on your mind and body. It often turns into endless and useless ‘I wish if only, I shouldn’t or should have…’ and self-blame that can keep you from re-engaging fully with the next chapter of your life. Because regret is repetitive, negative, and self-focused thinking, people experiencing repetitive regret are vulnerable to hopelessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide.
How then can we live with fewer regrets and how can we deal with the regrets we already have?
It’s not possible to avoid regret entirely. But managing regret in a healthy, positive way can help you learn from the experience. Here are four ways to help you from ruminating on unconstructive negative thoughts.
1. LEARN from the experience
Draw something positive from the experience. Your experience can teach you a valuable lesson. For example, if your employer gave you the opportunity to study part-time online and part-time work, which you’ll be paid for, and you turn it down.
Your regret might teach you a valuable life lesson. It can inspire you to go for opportunities that come your way that promote your development – and will one day lead to added finances, instead of thinking more about the immediate loss of your finances.
2. Be Self Compassionate
3. Avoid ‘What Ifs’
It’s natural to think about what could have been. But let it go – because you can’t go back there. It’s hypothetical.
Try to recognize when you are engaging in thought patterns that aren’t productive or helpful. And deliberately STOP and redirect your mind to the good things you have done. This way you won’t get too caught up in the fantasy.
If you are finding it difficult to stop, then do seek help.
Seek professional counseling or therapy if your regrets are:
- severely upsetting or overwhelming
- making it difficult to concentrate or think clearly
- impairing your ability to make decisions
- negatively affecting your day-to-day life (including relationships, home life, leisure time, or work)
Counseling or therapy might also be useful if your regrets are persistently accompanied by behaviors you feel compelled to engage in like taking alcohol and drugs to blot the pain of the regrets.