Regret is an emotion that we tend to hide from, but ignoring it can often cause more harm than good. When faced head-on, most things we regret can be fixed. You can remove unwanted tattoos, apologize for saying the wrong things, and even fix arguments with friends, but what about the ones that aren’t so easy to fix.
give yourself permission to feel it
Regret can bring on a number of uncomfortable feelings and thoughts. To avoid these feelings, we generally try to bottle it up and move in. Rather than realizing you feel ‘bad’ and then distracting yourself or ignoring the emotion, allow yourself to feel it.
If you are feeling this way, acknowledge it. Feel it. In some cases, there may be a silver lining or a way out, but in others, it’s important to just feel your emotion for what it is.
learn from it
Regret often stems from a mistake that we’ve made. Even though we can’t change past mistakes, we can use them as an important teaching tool to help us avoid making the same mistake again. If you are feeling regret, confront the very thing you regret doing. Isolate the mistake you made and learn from it.
Shame is another emotion commonly intertwined with regret. These emotions are often eased when we talk about them with someone else. Sharing how you’re feeling may seem difficult to do, but can invoke a strong sense of relief.
tip: if you’re not yet comfortable speaking with a friend, family member, or therapist… start by journaling your emotions. The most important part is getting it out.
The key to removing the negative feelings associated with regret is to work on accepting responsibility for whatever may have occurred. Acceptance may not be easy, and in some cases can take many years and professional guidance to master, but the process is worth it.
Regret is a natural emotion, and most of us will feel it at various points in our lives. But if your regret begins to feel damaging to your mental health or is affecting other areas of your life, then it’s time to reach out for help.