Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.” What a great insight!
At one time or another we all regret a choice we’ve made; it’s just being human. We can’t always choose the right path. But instead of regretting your choice, think about the positive aspects of your decision. What did you learn, how did you make the decision? Was it based on your present situation or future possibilities?
Last year I made a decision to buy a house on a little lake that was similar to my childhood home. Unfortunately I based the decision on the fantasy of “how I would like to use the house” rather than the reality of my life. Last summer I spent one weekend in the house, despite the fact that it’s less than one hour from my home in Albany. I hope it’s a good investment but only time will tell.
According to Dr. Michael Craig Miller, regrets can help us make sense of our life and our choices.
How do you get through regrets? Here are a few things I’ve come up with, let me know what you think.
I know this sounds simplistic but get over it! Getting too involved in regrets is pointless. Why spend time hashing and rehashing—it’s over. A friend of mine told me today that she is still trying to get over a 14 year relationship. She and her ex-boyfriend still continue to hash things over and over despite the fact that they both say it’s over!
View the experience positively. Remember the concept called Yin Yang? The ancient Chinese subscribe to a belief that there exist two complementary opposite forces in the universe. One is Yin, which is characterized as negative or feminine, the other is s Yang which represents everything positive or masculine. One is not better than the other, they just co-exist. There is a positive and negative side to everything.
If we apply them to life we could say there are two opposite sides to every event. In the case of our regret, it can be a positive learning experience. Ask yourself, how has this bad decision helped me? What have I learned, is there a good side to my bad decision?
This past week my favorite restaurant burned to the ground. The restaurant was one of the reasons that I bought my lake house. The restaurant had good food, good people and was the meeting place for everyone living on the lake.
Today I went to see the devastation. All I could think about was where will I go now? How will I find my summer friends?
It all felt so strange, it was my favorite place! I finally decided that there was a reason why I needed to move on. I’m not sure what it is but I’m practicing having “no regrets.”
Stay true to yourself. This is not about you being selfish, this is knowing yourself and doing what’s right for you. Maybe when you made the decision you weren’t doing the right thing for yourself.
Let your ethics be your guide. Socrates’ guiding rule was “know thyself.”
Stretch yourself. So you took a risk and it wasn’t right for you. According to Buzzle.com, sometimes taking a chance, regardless of how crazy it seems, can make your life more enjoyable.
Give yourself a break, try something that’s scary. Trying new things can free your spirit and give you a new joy for living. What’s wrong with that?
Most likely you’ll get to take more risks and make more mistakes. “Mistakes are sometimes the best memories.” Anonymous.
Let us know how you get through your regrets.
Lisbeth Calandrino is a business coach and speaker. For some fun tips on living, download her book, Brain Snacks.