Regret is a struggle we all unfortunately go through at one time or another. But what most people don't know is that regrets can actually bring you closer to yourself - and therefore to a more authentic life. In this blog post, you'll find 4 tips that can make dealing with regret a little more easeful and accessible, allowing you to catch the waves of your regrets and let them bring you (back) to your authentic self.
Tip #1: Acknowledge your younger self (and their circumstances)
You didn't know then what you know now. This was the best you could do with the knowledge and experience available to you at the time, mixed with the anxieties, wants and needs that were also part of that younger version of you. If you could have done better, you would have. Whatever you chose to (not) do or (not) say at that point in time, was in congruence with who you were in that very second. And now, you are someone else, because you have gained this experience. It is time to forgive yourself. Then, and only then, can you come back to the here and now - the only place where you're able to choose, again and again, to (try to) live a life that’s aligned with your authentic self.
Tip #2: Separate your "mistake" from who you are AND integrate it
According to Jeff Foster, regret is an attempt of your mind to change the past. And we all know that can't be done. The feeling is useful, because it can bring you closer to yourself, but it is important to separate the situation, the "mistake" itself, from who you are as a person. You may have made a mistake, you may have done something wrong, but that does not make you wrong or bad. It was an action; it is not who you are. Mistakes do NOT make you a mistake. (If you find this hard to see and/or feel, be sure to check out this blog post.)
In addition, carrying around your "mistake" only gets harder when you resist it. Such a misstep is like a sword in the metaphorical boat in which you sail from one version of yourself to the next. If you try to take out that sword, you'll be left with a hole in the bottom and your boat will sink. So, deliberately take it with you into your boat. It belongs to you, for better or for worse. And, if you let it, this experience, this lesson, can be part of a much larger and incredibly valuable growth process.
Tip #3: Tune in with what lies beneath your regrets
Regret is a very unpleasant feeling, and what do we humans do with unpleasant feelings? Well, let’s just say that our first reaction is usually not to sit down and take a moment to experience them to the fullest. It's not very surprising, then, that these kinds of feelings tend to stay with us for a very long time. The remedy? Deliberately creating some space for this shitty feeling of regret.
For a moment, focus on the regret you feel inside your chest (or stomach or throat or somewhere else). Then, imagine expanding this feeling throughout your entire body. Really take a moment to fill every nook and cranny with this particular sensation.
Oftentimes this clears the way for all sorts of other emotions (which may feel even more unpleasant than the regret itself). That which you are feeling right now, is what was hiding underneath your regret. Allow yourself to pause and acknowledge this feeling and express it in any way you feel called to (by, for example, punching a pillow, screaming into your hand, crying, hugging yourself, etc.). That true and deliberate recognition is all it takes to let this wave of regret recede and get your energy moving again.
Tip #4: Take this opportunity to strengthen your self-connection
You need experiences in which you have not acted in congruence with your authentic self to discover what that actually means. This is not something you can get right by accident. You'll only figure out what’s in alignment with the core of who you are by experiencing all the things that aren't right for you. In fact, it is in those moments that your inner voice appears most strongly. Take advantage of that. At present your essence is essentially yelling, "I wish I had done this differently!'' Let your regret be the catalyst for developing your self-connection instead of weakening it. The choice is yours. Forgive yourself and seize this opportunity to deepen the connection with your inner voice.
Hi, it's me, Shirley!
A few years ago I decided to stop making my life any harder than it already was. And since then my life has been perfect.
Okay, that's a lie.
But thanks to my self-compassion practice I now know how I can, time and time again, find my way back to my authentic self. And that's what makes my life so much more easeful & joyful these days.
Let’s cultivate more self-compassion together!
Subscribe to my fortnightly newsletter with exclusive content, tips, updates and more; all designed for you to cultivate some sweet self-compassion – aka to help you get out of your head, into your life & come home to yourself. 💛