“I wish I’d been a doctor … maybe I could have saved some lives that’d been lost… maybe I could have done some good in the world … instead of burning every bridge I’ve crossed!”– Bob Dylan
I have no idea how people plan these perfect little lives… with perfect families and perfect life choices. I could never do it. Maybe I’m not wired that way… There’s been a sense of excitement and adventure in the life I’ve lived. But in addition to the thrill of an unpredictable life comes guilt and regret.
My life has been a tragedy of errors… each time things became too comfortable, I’d throw a match on it and watch it burn. A life of alcoholism and drug addiction will do that to you…It wasn’t until I completely detoxed and went into counseling that I learned some life affirming facts about all the baggage I was carrying . I had to let go if I was ever going to get my life truly together… this is what I was taught … I hope it will help you…
1. Learn to Forgive
Regret happens when you don’t forgive yourself. When your mistake feels final, like going too fast on a highway, it is too easy to feel regret. However, forgiveness is a powerful catalyst, and is one of the most loving actions you can take for yourself. While regret holds you back in the past, forgiveness helps you to move forward.
Tell yourself, “That was part of who I was then. I didn’t know any better or I would have made a different choice. That mistake helped me to grow into who I am today. I forgive myself and resolve to move forward.” Believe what you tell yourself.
2. Let Go of Negative Feelings
Send negative feelings about your actions into the past, where the action occurred. They don’t do you any good now. Visualize moving those pent-up feelings from your body back to the moment they occurred, with the more innocent version of yourself. (Here, you can forgive both yourself and those feelings.)
3. Find the Lessons
Ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” When you make a mistake, there is ALWAYS something to learn…
Learning equals growth. It is more difficult to feel loss when your focus is on gain, and on bettering yourself.
My main lesson from my destructive life wasn’t simply to slow down; it was to listen to my intuition. It told me to slow down before I lost everything, but in my rush, I didn’t listen. I learned my lesson.
4. Letting Go of Old & Creating New
That person or thing you lost – what did it symbolize for you? What feeling did you enjoy (or wish to enjoy)?
Did your ex-spouse provide comfort and personal connection? Did a foreclosed house symbolize accomplishment and success for you?
Move feelings of comfort or success away from something in the past, and connect them to something new. Focus on new accomplishments and connections so you can move forward, away from memories, which no longer serve you.
Parting Words on Regret
The common thread in each of these lessons is to let go of the past and create a better future. When you do this, there is no longer room for regret, for it serves no active purpose. Concentrate on now. Put your passion into a new relationship, a new skill or a new adventure. Forgive yourself… learn from your mistakes, and move forward with a clear conscience.
This sounds like another “self help” menu being spit out for you to ignore … but I swear to you it worked for me! The past is gone and there is nothing there I need to carry into tomorrow … This is here… this is now… this is how I’m going to live my life!