Life without regrets is fiction. Regret is unavoidable as we always have preconceived notions of how our life will or ought to be. However there is always a deviation from our dream.
- You are changing diapers, wondering how it would be to be sipping martinis or taking decisions in the boardroom
- You are negotiating deals you don’t care about, dreaming of playing with the child you never had
- You are repairing dental cavities, fantasizing of filming that exciting documentary
- You are bored in your town house, daydreaming of being in the buzz of the city
Regret can find us everywhere: in our career, in romance, in parenting, etc.
So, what is regret? Regret is what the Buddha called suffering:
The root of suffering is attachment
Regret is a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc. It is a sense of lack. Of course, regret is a huge boulder between where you are and where you want to be. When we regret our reality is not good enough, we are not good enough, nothing is good enough. Regret is painful, toxic and self-annihilating. While we are despising our reality, we are missing all the joy, growth and opportunities that are in from of us. We are missing life.
Why is it so difficult to deal with regret
There are statistics about women regretting motherhood. Yes, researchers have found more than one woman who has thought “I regret being a mother”. Yet, we don’t talk about it. Women don’t even dare to admit that to themselves. They are supposed to love being a mother. It’s an unavoidable joy. All women are expected to feel the motherhood instinct.
This is the most important reason why dealing with regret is so challenging: we cannot pinpoint the regret. We get angry with ourselves if we find ourselves regretting. So, we push down those feelings. We quiet our inner voice. We create a distraction: entertainment or more work. We find a way not to feel this, to anesthetize ourselves, hoping that this way all will pass.
While we manage not to feel the regret for some moments, it is still there. It grows inside. It shows itself in stress, unreasonable anger, outburst of tears and other “surprising” behaviors.
Have I been there? Oh, you bet! The regret about my career is a well-known fact. I’ve never written about it, but my second child brought me into post natal depression, with all its regrets.
Here is my process to get out of that toxic place.
1. Accept it
First make a list of all that you regret. Just name it. Call it as it is. Take a notebook and write all that which makes you feel disappointed and dissatisfied. Cry over all that you have lost. Let out all that hurts. Pour it all out on the paper. Write until there are no more tears. Let it all out.
It could take you hours. It could take you days. Take all the time you need to get out all that suffering.
2. Get up the emotional ladder
Regret has you in the lower levels of the emotional ladder. You might be moving around apathy, grief and anger. Now that you accept your dissatisfaction, you can climb up your emotional ladder.
Take your notebook and write out at least 7 sentences that express your current feeling. Start where you are (apathy, grief or anger). Write all that expresses that feeling. If it’s pages and pages, so be it. Write away.
At some point you’ll feel slightly better. You’ll move up to the next feeling level. Here you have the feelings that you expect to find while you climb the ladder.
It’s very important that you do this exercise in one session. Else, you’ll stay stuck in one of the intermediate feelings. We want to bring you all the way up to peace.
3. Find the door
The door out of that suffering is detachment. After we have accepted that it hurts, it’s easy to ask ourselves: could I let go of these feelings?
Sometimes just asking the questions liberates us. However sometimes, a strong NO is the answer. Then we can use this next question: can I imagine myself one day letting go of these negative feelings?
To imagine ourselves happy again at some future moment is easy. Just to imagine that gets us in the right path. The inevitable answer to this question is yes. Then, ask yourself: When could I let go of these negative feelings?
Even if you answer with a future date, the reality is that you will be releasing that dissatisfaction the moment you see yourself being able to do it. It’s automatic.
4. Forgive yourself
If you are really to move on, you must forgive yourself. Take all the compassion you are able to gather and rub it all over you soul. Know that all you did and didn’t do was your best. That was what you could at that moment. That was your best. Imagine your Higher Self coming and giving you a hug, full of understanding, magic and peace.
5. Find the gift
All dark moments are full of blessings. We just need to find them. Now that you feel better, you can focus on learning from this episode. Let’s go back to the definition of regret. Regret is feeling dissatisfied with the outcome of your actions or in-actions. Now that your energy is higher, you can dispassionately look at your results and re-frame them.
- What has this forced me to do/be?
- Who have I become?
- If this didn’t happen, who would I be?
- What has this enabled me to do/be?
- Is there something good in it? for me? for others?
Take for example the regret of being a parent. What if this new life as a parent could be much better than your dreams? What if your child came to teach you what is truly important in life?
6. Make it awesome
Now that you have neutralized the extreme polarity of regret you have the great possibility of leading an awesome post regret life. My tips on how to do this will come in next week’s blog.
Now it’s your turn
Your assignment today is to be courageous and honest with yourself. Take step 1 of this process. Identify what you regret. Identify something you still haven’t forgiven yourself. Unload the bitterness within.
Just for the pro’s
Dare to share with us in the comments what is that which you still regret and are now open to conquer and get it out of your life. Write it down in the comments below.
Even more advanced
Comment with compassion and support to others who have dared to share their regrets.
All those commenting will receive a anti regret meditation, aka self-love and self-forgiveness meditation.
Thank you for reading, sharing and taking action
Infinite love to you,