Be honest. If you are alive and reading this, chances are that you regret a decision or a mistake you have made in your life. As I have begun coaching people to be happier, I have learned how powerful our past can be over our present lives.
Part of the process of personal growth — becoming you, enlightenment, call it what you want — is learning to face your past, especially the things you want least to face. I have been going through this personal journey over the last few years.
We are all human! Every person who has ever lived has some event
in his or her past that person wishes he or she could go back and change.
It can be minor like missing out on an opportunity, or it can be a major
‘mistake’ that you can’t seem to fully let go of or release. It can really haunt
you and rob you of your joy.
So how do we let go of these past regrets and mistakes we have
made? The first step to releasing regret requires acceptance— whatever
happened, whenever it happened. Ask yourself, “What can I do right now to
undo this past event?” In certain instances it is not too late. If you have
hurt someone or done something you regret, if you can truly apologize to
someone, you are one of the lucky ones. It may be scary or uncomfortable
but, if you can, at least attempt to make it right. Don’t wait any longer. If
you are able to make amends, you must do so – free of anyone’s response.
Often the person who was wronged may not accept your apology, but you
have no control over that. Do it for you! It can be very liberating,
regardless of how the other person reacts. You can only control you.
What if there is nothing you can do right now to fix a past regret? The
most important thing you can do is to forgive the former version of you who
made the mistake. I specify “former” version of you because it’s true — we
are not who we were!
One of my clients had been plagued by a mistake made as a teenager. Who the hell didn’t do something as a teenager? This regret was just a dumb mistake, but it was a life-altering, tragic event. It was just poor judgment at that time of his life. I asked my client to please go locate the teenage version of himself; go get him so I can see him! Well, obviously, the version of the person who made that mistake no longer exists. We are not who we were even yesterday, not to mention who we were as teens. We all screw up; we all make mistakes, some of which deeply hurt other people. But if you can’t undo, then you CAN forgive theformer version of you. Life is about trial and error. We all mess up. Quit letting a past mistake by a former version of yourself steal your joy now!
“Though no one can go back and make a new start, anyone can
start from now and make a brand new ending.” Carl Bard
Life only happens right now! Anything in your past occurred in that
moment. It was ‘NOW’ when it happened. We must accept who we are
right now; forgive a former version of you who isn’t who you are now. As
long as you remain stuck in your past, you are missing the chance at true
happiness and joy. Forgive that old you. If you are able to apologize, do
it! It may not ever be accepted, but all you can control is you.
Be grateful for the good and bad in your life. It’s easy to be thankful
for the good, but power lies in being thankful for the bad too! If you still
struggle with a regret, clearly you know you wouldn’t repeat that action. So
be grateful that your mistake has made you a better version of yourself. If
you choose to live in your past, you are missing out on the best time of your
life — RIGHT NOW! Accept the fact that you can’t go back and undo it; not
possible. If you are able to apologize, do it but don’t expect it to be
accepted or acknowledged.
We all mess up. We all regret things we have done. Forgive the
former version of you, and then let it go. Be happy NOW. It is as simple
as choosing it.