Regret has a typical feature of self-blame over making the wrong choices, regret is more than just a feeling, it is a tangible reaction to events or past choices that can increase stress and negatively affect our physical health. Regret is a real reaction to a disappointing event in our life, choices you made that can’t be changed, something you said that you can’t take back. It’s one of those feelings you can’t seem to shake, a heavy and intrusive negative emotion that can last for minutes, days, years or even a life time. Dealing with regret is even more difficult because of the negative emotion connected to it, like remorse, sorrow and helplessness.
Two ways to experience regret according to science
The ways to experience regret according to researchers refers to as the action path and the other is the inaction path. That is, we can regret thing we did or we can regret the things we did not do. According to research do by www.psycnet.apa.org in 2018 it suggested that action related regret, although painful, spur people to learn from their mistakes and move on. But regret related to inaction path- the things undone; the opportunities lost is harder to fix. This kind of regret is more likely to lead to depression, anxiety, a sense of feeling stuck and a feeling of longing over not knowing what could have been.
Steps to overcome regrets
- Acknowledge your feelings: Acknowledge and accept the feelings associated with your regret, this helps prompt you to think about the strategies you could use to maximize the pain of similar future experiences. Specifically identify or acknowledge which emotion exactly you are feeling. Try to observe yourself without judgement. Silently describe to yourself how regret makes you feel in that moment.
- Make amends if your behavior caused harm: In many case of regret, it becomes clear that one has acted in a way that hurt someone else. Approaching rather than avoid regret can enable you to recognize any harm you might have caused and make amends if possible.
- Learn to forgive yourself: Self-criticism is often harsh and relentless. This way of treating yourself will of course, not make you feel more positive emotion or less regret. So how do you become more self-forgiving, it can be done intentionally and gradually. When you pay attention to when you slip to self-reproach and how its sound when you do, giving your inner critical voice a name, maybe accompanied with an image, this can help you realize that you are going down that unproductive path, and catch yourself back before you are in too deep.
- Show some kindness to yourself: Having made a bad decision in the past does not mean you are the worst person on earth or that you will repeat the same mistake over and over again. Give yourself some time to tackle a similar situation again with the benefit of the experience you’ve gained from your past and hopefully a better understanding about how to react in a more positive way.
- Set some time to heal from past regrets: If your regret is because of a major past life decision you have taken you need to give yourself some time to heal from the consequences of your actions. Constantly thinking about your past regrets will keep the negative thought and feelings every time. Focus on things that makes you feel better and productive in a positive way. With time those negative emotions will begin to fade away.
- Create a new goal: Instead of obsessing over past mistakes that you have made, and making yourself feel bad or less, you could consider setting a new goal or plan for the future. More on, celebrate yourself and your new achieved goals then you respond positively to situations and create more positive outcomes.
- Get help: Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in helping you manage any self-destructive thoughts and emotions by redirecting any negative impulses into more constructive way of thinking and behaving.
A typical feature of regret is self-blame over making the wrong decision in the past. Every one at one point in life have their regret, you are not the only one having regret but you can make amends by taking a new turn. The above steps will guide you on how to move past all those past bad decisions that have held you back for too long. Move on and be cheerful.