Dictionary.com defines regret as “a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.” When I hear people speak of their regrets, they are usually thinking about their pasts. But we all know that we can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future. So, what function do regrets really have?
Author Rory Cochrane once said, “I do not regret the things I’ve done, but those I did not do.” So whether you’re thinking of something you wish you hadn’t done or maybe something you wish you had, regret can function as a guide for present-moment decisions. And all we have is the gift of right now – that’s why it’s called the “present.”
Personally, I can honestly say I have no regrets. I’m one of those people that believe that everything happens for a reason, so what is there to regret? The Cochrane quote really had a big impact on me the first time I read it. I have been an anxious person most of my life, and was allowing the fear to make my world smaller and smaller. Reading that quote made something “click” in my head and helped me say “yes” to things that I wanted to do but usually would have said “no” to out of fear of the unknown.
Are there things that you regret? Perhaps there’s a person that you’d like to reconnect with or a situation that you can correct. Today is the first day of March. While Spring doesn’t officially start until the 20th, why not start anew today? Fix the things you can and work on letting go of the things you can’t. Regret, like guilt, can be an excellent motivator, but hanging onto it too long is just a waste of precious energy.
So, I thought I’d “mastered” blogging (lol) when I discovered Monday night I’d erased Monday’s post and on Tuesday am, didn’t schedule it right. After chastising myself for “ruining” Monday and Tuesday, I thought I can either keep feeling bad or let it go. Yes, it was a mistake but not fatal or harmful, except for my beating myself up.
And isn’t this how life goes? Whether it’s being a “good enough” mom, wife, daughter, worker, blogger, we as women focus tirelessly on where we’ve fallen short, feeling worthless and unhappy. We are our own worst critic. We would rarely be as unforgiving of someone else. But we’re convinced, we deserve it!
How do we get out of this rut? First, by practicing self-care and making our health and well-being a priority. My “mistakes” followed two crazy weeks of non-stop activity but I was so energized by what I was doing, I told myself that would carry me through. It didn’t. The more depleted we become, the more likely we are to make mistakes, and vulnerable to self-criticism because negative thinking comes easier and seems truer.
Next, we need to “befriend” ourselves and extend the same kindness and generosity we would to a good friend who was feeling badly about herself. Yes, it’s okay to treat ourselves as well as others. It is the key to releasing self-criticism, knowing we are deserving of love although we are imperfect and make mistakes. Unconditional love towards ourselves.
Here are some additional thoughts on how to renew ourselves and release old, worn thoughts and habits. Spring cleaning from the inside out.
Discover what’s nourishing. Just as plants need water and sunshine to grow, we need physical, emotional, and spiritual sustenance. Start with eating healthy foods, getting regular physical activity, sleeping 8-9 hours, and taking breaks for your mind and body. Do one thing you enjoy daily, whether it’s phoning a friend, listening to music or walking your dog. Nurture your spirit through prayer, meditation, or communing with nature.
Let go of un-nourishing relationships. Being honest about admitting and detaching from relationships which aren’t good anymore can still hurt especially ones involving family and long-term friends. If we’ve spoken to them about what needs to be different and things haven’t changed over time, release them with love. Clearing space for nourishing relationships to enter.
Cultivate optimism. Looking more on the “sunny” side of life can be learned by shifting attention away from negative thoughts to more positive ones. There are few situations which are all good or all bad. Our great job may sour when we get a new boss. An untimely move lead to a wonderful neighborhood with friends with love. Prune your mind of unnecessary negativity.
When we feel grateful, our souls are nourished and restored. We have a more positive attitude toward today and what lies ahead. We feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Supported in the deepest sense. Abundant and alive.
Each January, we resolve to change ourselves and our ways so this year will be better than the year before. We plan to be more organized, more motivated, more disciplined. Always ” more,” and when we don’t succeed, we feel unhappy, inadequate and disappointed. While goals are desirable, the miracle of everyday life is equally important.
Buddha said, “Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” Life occurs in the present. If our gaze is too much on the future or in the past, we lose the chance to experience the abundance life offers.
I remember when my daughters were in elementary school and would burst in the door, chattering about the day. Sometimes, I would listen. Other times, I was occupied with work or making dinner, and wouldn’t pay much attention. I recall the disappointment on their faces when they saw I wasn’t interested. Likewise, I recall how much I missed those chances during middle school and high school when it was far more important that they speak to their friends than me.
Now when they’re around and want to talk, I stop and listen. At 18 and 22, they may not be around much longer. I savor our moments together, and know it’s what matters most. Buddha also said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” Look for the miracle each day brings. It’s right in front of us waiting to be found.