Saturday, March 8, 2014

Letting Regrets Turn Into Memories and Lessons Learned

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"Regrets are visitors in the guest house of the mind"

One thing about regrets that I'm slowly learning is that they can either be temporary (while you learn how to handle them), or they can become a permanent part of our life and how you identify yourself. I'm currently at a time in my life where I'm trying to take all the regrets I have, no matter how big or small, and turn them into distant memories and lessons learned. I've talked to a lot of people out of curiosity recently to find out about things they've done or said that they've ended up regretting and asking them for guidance on how they got past it. While sharing stories with others I've learned a lot about how to move on and get some weight off my chest. "Regrets are visitors in the guest house of the mind" is one of my new favorite quotes. Let regrets be temporary, nothing more than visitors in your life. Don't allow them to become permanent residents that you have to deal with everyday. Don't let them become obnoxious landlords that own your mind that you have to answer to all the time. That constant nuisance that you try to hide from, but their visit or phone call is unavoidable. Let them come and let them go.

Recently I wrote a little about regrets and how much I dislike the quote, "Regret nothing because at one point in time it was exactly what you wanted". I wrote about how sometimes the things that we believe are "right" aren't actually what we want and the things that we want aren't always "right". I wrote about how while there's some truth to that quote that life isn't black and white and there are a lot of circumstances that make regrets difficult to avoid. That being said, all we can do to
 try to avoid them from happening in the first place is slowing down while making all of our decisions and making them with concerns of our health, heart, mind, and body. But even that doesn't always work because sometimes our hearts or heads are telling us to do certain things that aren't going to be in our best interest down the road, even if they are at the moment. When this happens it teaches us that sometimes regrets are inevitable. Regrets are inevitable because change is. What we want, what we need, and what's best for us changes as the years, weeks, or even days go by. 

Once you've made a decision that has lead you to regret, you have to move forward. Every day I'm working towards letting go of regrets and one of the main things I find useful is to constantly remind myself that I have to try to focus on all the positives. If there doesn't seem like there are any, I just need to choose to learn something from it, learning is always a positive thing. If I need more positivity than that, I can remind myself that all of my decisions, good or bad, make me who I am. There's  a certain amount of knowledge or wisdom that can come by learning from the experiences and mistakes of others, but a large part can only come from going through something yourself. So if you're dealing with regret, the first step is to try to find the positives in the situation.

Personally, that's where I'm at in my journey to self-acceptance. I've found some positives and accepted that all of my decisions are things that I chose and are now part of who I am. I trust myself to find strength within' myself and to persevere. No amount of regret is worth rolling over and dying for. I've also found that time is somewhat of a factor in healing when I'm feeling guilty, ashamed, or full of regret. "Time heals all wounds" is a myth. All that time itself does is put distance between you and whatever happened. While I guess there's some peace to be found in that, time can only truly help if you utilize it. It's what you do in that time that determines your progress. You need to take a moment to breathe and reflect on what it was you did, why you did it, how it made you feel, and what you learned. Reflection takes time and so does forgiving yourself. If you refuse to forgive yourself then there's no way you're going to move on with that burden.

Something else I've found useful is not allowing myself to get too attached to my emotions. Recognize and identify your emotions, and then let them go. Don't let your emotions become who you are and run your life. It's a lot easier said than done, but once you have control over your emotions, recognize that regret alone is a waste of time. It's a waste unless you take this regret and use it to your advantage, some great things can come from it. Often times, people won't make changes for the better until they have regret as a driving force behind them. Or at least that's how I am. Having regrets has caused me to strive to be better. Without regrets and guilt, most of us would never grow as people. People have this preconceived idea that nothing good can come from regret, and this is what determines how we let the regrets affect us. It can be a positive or negative experience.

The final thing that I've found useful to keep in mind, is that the time we spend regretting something could become a regret of it's own. I'm still living with a few regrets that I'm working towards letting go, but I also have regrets of the past that I've moved beyond. When I look back at past regrets, I almost regret the time I spent regretting those mistakes more than the mistakes themselves. Confusing I know! But if you think about it, I think a lot of us encounter this problem. Looking back on wasted time we spent on regrets instead of dedicating all that time to moving on in a quicker and more healthy manner.

Try not to ever fall back on the "what-ifs". 
Thinking about the what-ifs won't change anything, and honestly, it can be unbearable. The past is the past, it can't be changed, and any time spent on living as if it could be is time wasted. Instead of thinking about what could have been, focus on what can be and how you can get there. 

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