Fear and regret go hand-in-hand, maybe a little too snuggly. How many times have you held yourself back from a potentially exciting opportunity, because you couldn’t be sure that you would be successful in a new environment? Even if there is no room for promotion or growth at a current job, you held onto a position because it is secure. You knew what to expect. But then there was this nagging voice at the back of your mind, will you regret not leaving your job? What happens when you leave your secure job and the offer could go bottoms up?
The unknown can paralyze if you let it.
Unlike mosquitos, which I can’t for the life of me determine their purpose, regret does serve you. Are you familiar with the quote, “insanity is doing the same thing over-and-over again and expecting different results?” Regret keeps you from repeating yourself, suggest Psychology Today: “Without regret, we can hardly learn from our mistakes. We need this painful stimulus to avoid repeating the same mistake again and again.[...] Missing a bus by one minute triggers more regret than missing it by 10 (regardless of how long we expect to wait for the next bus).” Essentially, you want to leverage regret to break bad habits, but kick it to the curb when you need to make a big decision.
The definition of regret can be summed up in three ways: disappointment, sadness, and repentant feelings. All three are weighty and scary, much like regret. Just know if you do not get uncomfortable, you’re probably still going to experience sadness with a missed opportunity.
There’s no winning if you don’t try. Mistakes are a part of life, you can live your best life and still mess up from time to time. In fact, you have to mess up. So don’t use regret as an excuse not to try.
Starve off regret by leaning into your personal strengths. Do you know you’re a fast learner? Well okay, then! You can try launching a new business, and at the very least you can count on yourself to be adaptive! Have faith and trust in yourself. You can do anything you desire, but know you will do it with some mess-ups and that’s good, that’s growth.
If you keep a journal, take the time to write out your strengths. How can you leverage your skill set to make an uncomfortable situation more appealing?
Move past regret by having compassion for yourself.
Detach from blame. When we experience regret oftentimes, we want to scold ourselves. We roll around in this blame-game and stop moving forward. If regret is something you experience often, you’ll want to work on having compassion and forgiveness...for yourself! You took a misstep, so what? How can you learn from the situation? Did you experience personal growth even as you took the loss, that’s a win.
Sure we could have run to catch the bus, but we missed it. Maybe that bus was the one you needed to make it to an important interview. Maybe it was the bus you should have caught to be at your child's school in time. Whatever the case might be, forgive yourself. Life is messy enough without our internal chaos amplified by regret.
Don’t let the fear of regret keep you from living your best life!