Regret settles in when things don’t go as planned and you don’t act the way you were “supposed to” in a given situation. When instead of doing something you had to do, you procrastinated and gave into unproductive activities. Regret comes when you realize you have not much time left before your deadline and you’re faced with harsh choices: either working your ass off until you get the job done or not do anything and be disgusted with yourself. But no matter how much you regret acting the way you did, you can’t go back in time. And maybe it is for the best. Because although regret is a nagging and highly unpleasant feeling, it is also a reminder for the future and, most importantly, a feeling that can be addressed and even serve you well.
How to get rid of regret:
- Go back mentally to the day everything began to fall apart and you made the “wrong” choice. Now imagine yourself making the “right” choice and living on as you used to. You might have been more productive. You might even have achieved something great. You might have not missed rare opportunities. But you wouldn’t be there today thinking about it. You would have been a whole other person. Now, I’m not saying you don’t wish to be that other person, you probably do, but now you know more that this other version of yourself ever did. You know how it feels when you do things “right” and you know how it feels when you do things “wrong”.
It’s all about learning from our errors.
- Use this feeling in a creative way. Write down what would have happened if things didn’t go wrong, if you kept your promises, if things went as planned, if you didn’t have to regret anything. Sometimes, all it takes to feel better about yourself is to go by the “fanfiction approach”. What do I mean, you ask? When I hate how a show I like treats its characters and storylines, I go to fanfiction and write my own version of the story, being truthful to the characters and the main plot. Sometimes all a bad episode needs is a twist. Sometimes relationships can be salvaged by one short sentence. In life things tend to get more complicated, but they aren’t really.
Sometimes all it takes to turn a bad situation around is just to get up and move in another direction. Sometimes all it takes to end a fight is to say “I’m sorry”. Little twists now and then that prove that not only you are the writer of your own story, but also that most of the time, the things that happen to you are the best things that could ever happen.
Writing is a cathartic exercise, it always helps to put things into perspective, either in order to make new plans or stop obsessing about past choices.
It’s easier to live by the “everything happens for a reason” philosophy if the things that happen to you are more than just love quarrels or unfinished college papers. If it is sickness, or death, or a hurtful relationship. But whatever it is that makes you regret your past choices, you can always pick up a pen and paper and write a story about how things would have been instead.
Asking yourself the question “what if ?” and trying to apply it to your own life is one of the ways to overcome feelings of guilt and regret by giving into them in a creative way.
Let me know what you think!