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January 24, 2008

How To Overcome Regret

By Alicia Socorro

For many women, regret is a big part of their lives. Whether it’s having married the wrong guy, not finishing college or dumping the greatest boyfriend you’ve ever had, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s something on your list that you shoulda, coulda or woulda done differently.

It’s common to have some regrets; after all, life isn’t a rehearsal; this is it - this is your life. But you don’t have to live in the past and continue on this path of regret and remorse.

Here’s what you can do going forward instead to overcome regret and begin living a happy life again.

Overcome regret tip #1
Don’t dwell on mistakes

Playing your mistakes over and over again will get you nowhere fast, and may even contribute to illness. Why would you want to put yourself in a position where all you do is live your past errors over and over again?

It’s time to overcome regret. If you stupidly slept with your best friend’s boyfriend, yeah, you made a huge mistake and maybe she’ll never forgive you, but what are you gaining by playing the moment over and over again in your mind?

Take what happened and chalk it up to a childish decision made in haste. You won’t be helping anyone or gaining forgiveness by being miserable about it. Keep telling yourself that and perhaps you’ll start to believe it and let it go.

Overcome regret tip #2
Stop doing things you’ll regret
Of course, the no-brainer tip is that you maybe want to stop badmouthing people all the time if you feel so terribly about it afterwards.

“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana knew what he was talking about and it’s about time you started getting with the program, too.

You’re old enough to understand the consequences of your actions and if you can’t stop yourself from doing things that lead to feelings of regret, then you’re going to end up spending many years giving up all your earnings to a therapist. And there’s no way you’ll ever overcome regret.

Figure out the traits and actions about yourself that you don’t like and start making an effort to change them for the better. It’s either that, or have fun paying to complain to someone once a week.

Overcome regret tip #3
Make amends
If you called your brother’s wife a whore in a fit of anger at the last family gathering and have been kicking yourself ever since because you shouldn’t have said it (even if it’s true), you have to make an effort to fix what you broke.

Of course, saying “sorry you’re such a whore” won’t cut it. You need to call her up and ask her to meet with you one-on-one to discuss what happened and why. But above and beyond all else, you have to apologize.

But it doesn’t end there (I know it sucks, but if you want to sleep at night…); in order to overcome regret, you have to apologize to her in front of everyone who witnessed your little fit. And to keep things in good taste, you should apologize to everyone as well for having lost control of your emotions.

If your regrets are something you can fix, then fix them. Don’t spend your life feeling bad about something that you can change with today’s actions.

Overcome regret tip #4
Embrace past as a learning experience
Rather than lose sleep and spend your days and nights moping around about the fact that you quit your job without having a backup plan, take it as a learning experience and do your best going forward.

Spend your time looking for a great job and once you find one (and you will), make sure you save up some money and keep your options open toward other career prospects.

Overcome regret tip #5
Face that life is too short
If all else fails, talk to an older person that you admire like your mom or dad, and they’ll tell you what it usually takes us too long to figure out – life is too short to spend it focusing on all the stupid little things we didn’t do or shouldn’t have done.

At the end of the day, you’re healthy, smart and beautiful, and all you need to do is realize that life doesn’t allow us to go backwards, so we might as well embrace all the decisions we’ve made thus far and move forward.

Overcome regret once and for all

I don’t want to sound like a Hallmark moment, but you need to learn to love yourself and come to terms with all the decisions you’ve made in your life, whether they ended up hurting someone else or you, it’s too late to keep wondering “what if.”

Accept where you are today and try to appreciate how you got there, even if it may not be exactly where you expected to be. Love life and live it to the fullest.

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