It always begins the same way. She is waiting, anxiously, filled with butterflies and a joy that overcomes her. Her name, soon to be called. This is it. She is going to make her family proud. She is going to accomplish something big. She will not be a statistic, she will be… They call her name. As she approaches the stage, she adjusts her graduation gown. The noise of people cheering from the bleachers make her blush. Tears are threatening to escape, this rite of passage, it is hers. Three more feet, the diploma signifying all that she’s accomplished, it’s right there, almost hers. She is free, full of light and love. Then she wakes up. Just a dream. Wait, more like a nightmare. The truth, a scene that is on autopilot, comes back to haunt her once again. It’s been 8 years. Almost a decade, and still, she’s haunted. Regret will not allow her to move on. Regret has once again, destroyed a night’s worth of sweet dreams. Will she ever overcome this agonizing nightmare? Can she find true peace? Is there really a silver lining?
I recently posted a question on Facebook asking which was a heavier burden to carry, guilt or regret? By a long shot, most people said regret.
What is it about regret that creates such deep lasting wounds, that time does not seem to heal?
- Regret is a window of continuous “what if’s”. Imagine living a life where you can just push open sheer curtains and peer into the life you “could have”, if only you chose to take that job, said no to that decision, waited a few more minutes, thought it out deeper or just was in a better place.
- Regret changes the way you treat others. Toddlers and tiaras anyone? Most parents that push and push and push their child to do something, something the child does not feel passionate about is usually living their missed dreams through their child. Do you ever see yourself in someone? Does it make you push them away, or does it bring them closer? Regardless, you treat them differently, they still can make that choice you wish you had made differently. All of a sudden, judgement comes in.
- Regret is a breeding ground. Regret takes up residence within your spirit, out goes peace, joy, calmness, and hope. In its place, there’s guilt, shame, and resentment. Regret steals, it never gives.
Can you let go of regret? Is there ever peace?
Honestly, I believe that regret is a seed. Depending on how you feed that seed, it will grow in different ways. Once a seed is planted, you reap what you sow. This is just life. How you choose to respond to the action taken is how it will continue to affect your life.
My friend Stephanie from Parenting Chaos recently told me that she doesn’t allow regret to take occupancy in her mind. She learned that it’s better to see the silver lining.
What a splash in my face! (But the glass is still half full.)
How do you overcome regret?
- In the words of Queen Elsa, “Let it go”. Give yourself permission to no longer feel weighed down by the past. Your thoughts are powerful, your words are life changing, your actions -they can create a movement. Manifest positivity by literally telling yourself that you are no longer a victim of the past.
- Promise yourself that you will be mindful of your future decisions, especially ones that have caused you pain. Learn from those lessons that have caused you grief.
- Forgive yourself. The difference between a motivational speaker who speaks from past painful experience and the helicopter mom on Toddlers and Tiara’s is that the motivational speaker took action. The first action is that the motivational speaker forgave herself. She didn’t try to cover her guilt by projecting it, she looked the pain in her own eyes and told herself “there’s no turning back, I will get through this”. Accept what is, there is no changing the past.
- Replace it. Choose to see the silver lining. Choose to see the strength you were able to gain from the hardship.
What is your regret? We all have at least one. Are you ready to heal from that decision you made or didn’t make?
“Everybody wants to be on the mountaintop, but if you’ll remember, mountaintops are rocky and cold. There is no growth on the top of a mountain. Sure, the view is great, but what’s a view for? A view just gives us a glimpse of our next destination-our next target. But to hit that target, we must come off the mountain, go through the valley, and begin to climb the next slope. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.” –Andy Andrews