5 Ways to Get Over Regret
Regret is the thief of joy. It’s also a normal part of the human experience. “What could I have done differently?” “How could I have prevented this?” These are the kinds of questions we may ask ourselves before going to bed each night, and they’re the haunting conundrums that can stay with us during the day.
“No regrets” is a popular saying that’s been making the rounds on social media lately, but the truth is that it’s entirely wrong. Not only is regret normal, but it also guides us toward a better outcome going forward. The goal is to learn how to deal with regret without sweating the mistakes we make. If you can find a way to move past regret while also accepting yourself for who you are, you’ll find yourself in a state of far greater clarity and peace than if you choose to wallow in your past behaviors.
How to deal with regret
1. Accept that your mistakes aren’t noticeable
Let’s set you at ease a little bit. The first thing you should know about personal regrets is that, for the most part, nobody thinks about them as much as you do. In fact, nobody thinks about you as much as you think they do in all facets of life, not just when you’ve done something wrong. That might sound bleak or pessimistic, but it’s actually the opposite: by understanding that your mistakes aren’t huge, looming blunders in everyone else’s minds, you can breathe a little more comfortably.
Want to know something else? Everyone else is much more caught up in thinking about their regrets, which means they’re far more preoccupied with what they’ve done wrong than what you have. With that in mind, allow yourself to let go of some of the pressure. Regret is something we all deal with, and it’s not the end of the world.
2. Know that people are invested in your growth
When you were a kid, did you ever try to do something for the first time and fail miserably? Chances are you probably fell when riding a bike for the first time. Or maybe it took you a year to learn how to whistle. Maybe you couldn’t understand multiplication to save your own life.
But then what happened? You learned, and you grew. When you were a kid, all those failures didn’t matter so much, did they? The people behind you kept cheering you on until you succeeded.
This translates into our adult lives, too. Think about the people in your life who are invested in you, your growth, and your journey. Think about your “day one” people, and how they’re still beside you — maybe it’s your family, your friends, your coworkers or your partner. These people have seen you make big mistakes, but they’ve always been there for you. And they’ll keep being there for you as you learn and grow.
Whatever you’re regretting right now, it’s time to accept that you’re going to grow and improve upon what went wrong. You have people in your corner, and they’ll stay in your corner until you’re on a path of peace, happiness and contentment.
3. Remember that to regret is to learn
We’ve touched on this a bit already, but regret is an extremely powerful learning tool. There’s a famous quote that goes, “you either win, or you learn.” That’s true of regret: even if you don’t succeed or get the outcome you wanted, you learned a whole lot in the process. In fact, if you only ever succeed, you’re not going to have many tools in your toolbox for when failure does come creeping up.
4. Choose to act in ways that you’re proud of
You can’t change the past. Say it out loud if you need to; there’s nothing that’s going to rewrite everything that happened. But if you choose to live in the past and shame yourself for all you could’ve done, you’re going to spend a whole lot of time choosing to be unhappy.
That’s right: wallowing in regret is a decision to remain unhappy. The best part about decisions is that you can choose to make a new decision at any time. Choose now to act in ways that you can be proud of instead of crucifying yourself for your old ways. It’s the best choice you can make going forward.
5. Confide in someone who has your back
Top-notch coaches are skilled in overcoming regret. If you haven’t worked with a coach before, you might not know what the experience is like, but take it from us: the process is completely life-changing. We’ve worked with people who were consumed with regret, and after just 10 weeks of coaching, they were able to see the situation through a different, kinder lens.
Choosing to work with a coach is one of the most proactive choices you can make. If you’re sick and tired of the regret you’re carrying, now is the time to talk to a coach.
Looking for more?
Check out our thoughts on bouncing back when life gets tough.