It’s not uncommon to see people go through all the possibilities in life and wonder what could’ve been if they had done things differently. Frequently, you’ll regret a choice in life because of the opportunities you’ve missed. Whether it’s a job, relationship, or experience, there are many things that we wish would’ve gone another way.
We tend to focus so much on what could’ve been that it slowly destroys our lifestyle and how we live with others. However, regret still plays a crucial role in our lives like any other emotion. It crystallizes our outlook and helps us build better relationships and make better decisions.
What Exactly Is Regret?
Is regret an entirely negative feeling that everyone should avoid? And does it hold a more profound role in our lives? In definition, regret is an aversive emotion that revolves around the past and our desire to change it. It’s generally a result of comparing your present life to your aspired condition. For instance, you’d wish you made a different choice because you feel terrible about your current state.
Because of this, many people make it their life’s mission to “live with no regrets.” However, experts suggest that regret can also contribute positively to your life. Your regrets can be sources of valuable information to improve your interactions with people and decision-making. Regretting a decision may lead you to choose another option as another similar event happens in your life. So, yes. Regret can indeed hurt a person. But this doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of it. Instead, use it as a tool to make better decisions in the future and learn to live with it.
Kinds of Regret
Now that we know what regret is and how it can be a building block for a better you, the next question would be, “what are the different kinds of regret?” There are 4 regrets that you’ll experience in your entire life to answer.
First is the “foundation regret” revolving around your lack of responsibility. This type of regret includes overspending, skipping school, and any other bad habits that you may have in the past that are making your life more challenging in the present; The second type of regret is the regrets of morality. This regret type includes anything you’ve done that caused pain to other people, such as cheating on your partner and lying; Thirdly, you have regrets of disconnection where you cut ties with certain people such as your friends, family, and co-workers; And lastly, boldness regrets are the type of regrets you feel for not taking risks. This type of regret comes from being overly cautious and missing out on life-changing opportunities.
You may have experienced one or two of these regrets, but you need to remember that you have to come to terms with them.
Ways To Release Yourself From Regrets
Coping with your regrets can be difficult. Fortunately, there are five ways to help you overcome regrets and utilize them to make better choices in the future. Here are the five strategies you can use to get the best out of your guilt.
Of course, while there is nothing inherently wrong with looking back, you still shouldn’t make it a habit. You’ll find more reasons to beat yourself up with the things you can’t change. Instead, it would be better to realize that the present and the future are yours for the taking because we’re not living our lives in reverse. Therefore, we must recognize that our life requires us to move forward.
Regrets can sometimes stem from holding yourself up to unreasonable standards. However, it’s a hard truth that all of us will fail at some point in time and fall short of our expectations. When this happens, it’s up to you to forgive yourself.
Recognize what you can and cannot control and reduce the blame you impose on yourself. Forgiving yourself means letting go of all your pent-up anger, resentment, and disappointment towards yourself. Rather than beating yourself up for the mistakes you’ve made in the past, you can show yourself the same compassion you’d give to someone you love.
You might not have heard of this before. Still, cognitive reframing is a solid strategy to reshape your mindset and be more compassionate to yourself. It prevents you from self-sabotaging by enabling you to see how your emotions are valid. But, most importantly, it eliminates the distortions you feel about your past mistakes. Instead, reframing allows you to gain wisdom from your regrets and optimize it for your future decisions.
The biggest mistake of people with regrets is to deny that they have any. To avoid this, we recommend listing your regrets and reflecting on them. Afterward, record your learnings from these regrets, like what you would do differently the next time around. Regrets have a vital role in a person’s goal-setting. For instance, regrets provide an insight into what actions you should avoid when making a decision. You can go back to this list of learnings and regrets from time to time to remind yourself what you could do differently.
The last strategy to overcome you regret is to apologize to other people. It’s crucial to recognize that your actions affect not only you but also those around you, which is usually the case if your regrets revolve around relationships with people or things that caused pain and suffering to others. Sincerely apologizing for your actions doesn’t guarantee to fix your past mistakes but lets people know that you empathize with them and that you’re remorseful about what happened.
Regret can be self-destructive if it’s not processed correctly. Understanding what regret is and how to cope with it helps prevent this from happening. Some say that we don’t need to regret any decision in our lives. However, the only way to free yourself from regret is to live with and learn how to deal with it. So, cut yourself some slack and be more compassionate to yourself and your decisions. That’s how you’ll live fully, despite your regrets.