Have you ever wanted to let go of old regrets? But just having that desire, does not mean it's easy. We are all human. We all make mistakes, and that's because we’re all here to learn. The good news is we don’t have to keep trudging through life, carrying this heavy baggage. Below, I’m going to give you 7 ways to free yourself from the tethers of regret, guilt and shame, and use what’s happened to make you stronger, more aware, and kinder to yourself and others. Let’s jump in:
1. Become aware of how you are feeling.
Most people tend to bury their feelings especially if they feel bad. Change that up. In order to release what we’re feeling, we can’t shove down the feelings – they’ll just fester and get bigger. We have to feel them, yes, anger, sadness, fear or joy. That's when they can be released. Old feelings can be healed through looking at old photos; they can also be expressed in a journal; by talking with someone; or in some cases even by punching a pillow. Whatever - but let these feelings come up for air in order to get them out. That’s step 1.
2. Cut yourself some slack (also known as self-compassion)
People do things that they may regret, for a couple of reasons: when they are blindsided and don’t know any better, OR, when they are in pain, and just trying to survive. In both these situations they don’t feel like there are other options. Every human feels this from time to time. So much so that for many it becomes a way of being. Consider this a challenge to break the habit of putting yourself down. It will be liberating
Now, I want to ask you, at what age or situation did you experience your deepest regret. We all have one. I invite you to write yours in the comments below. I definitely am carrying some mom-guilt, and it’s getting better, but let me tell you - it’s a process. There was advice I was given by so-called experts, and i look back on it and say - that was NOT good advice. I can see that now, but then I didn’t know better. I was trying so hard to do the “right “ thing, that I followed it. Ahhh - I still carry some regrets, but when i have compassion for myself - that I was doing the best I could with the knowledge I had, it reframes my feelings in a way that lets me move forward.
3. Take responsibility – we all do positive and negative stuff – we do that all the time. AND we have the power to change our responses to situations. Just because it was a pattern you may have seen your parents act out, or you "always seem to go there," doesn’t mean that this pattern is forever. You now have the power to change your responses if you want to. And often that involves forgiving yourself for being caught into that, and forgiving others for not knowing there’s another way. It can also mean forgiving life for being unfair. It doesn’t mean what happened was OK, - it means you don’t have to live there 24/7. You can make other plans that work with your values now.
4. Try to make amends – Say you’re sorry, both to yourself that you were trapped there for so long, and to others if you hurt them. That action in itself, makes you the hero of your story, instead of the victim. You are trying to make things better. Something important that you need to know – you have no control over what they will say or do – this step is 100% for your own freedom, because YOU are moving on…
5. Focus on the Positive – be aware of the experience and wisdom you have gained – you’re in a different place now. And appreciate the good people in your life. Also appreciate your own inner strength, discernment, and efforts and progress. They are hard won – don’t just dismiss these things.
6. Be Curious - This is time to ask yourself, “What if I followed my curiosity or a dream I never had time for? What if I acted boldly and signed up for something that stretched me beyond the comfort of the "same old, same old." And then, get into action! But, here's the pro move: make it small steps, not giant leaps. You’re learning to re-trust yourself.
7. Rewrite the Story – everything in your life happened for a reason. That is, to give you the lesson, either so you could come out stronger and more aware, or to lift you up, so you could do that for others too. You are the main character in your story – learning to embrace the light and the shadow, because these are all part of our humanity – and this is what connects us to each other in very deep ways. As we get older we learn that we can hold both joy and sorrow, confusion and clarity, peace and uncertainty. The container gets bigger, and we have more to share.
So let go of those old feelings, reframe them, and rewrite you regrets. Don’t let them clog up your energy. This is the beginning of something new. Make some room for the good stuff that is ready to come your way.
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