Do you have any advice for moving past something you regret? This situation is so stupid, but despite knowing for years that I can do nothing to change it, I still fret over it.
No situation is ever “stupid” (“wrong” or a “mistake”). That is your judgment and opinion of yourself – be kind! It’s easy to get caught up in self-shame because it makes the “pain” seem less bearable (“I’ll put myself down so no one else will”), but you are only creating more pain in the end. It’s Ok – this is a part of the learning, growing, and healing process.
Whatever the situation or moment in the past, at that time you did the very best that you could and it was exactly what you “wanted.” Obviously, you have grown emotionally and mentally since that occurrence and now you have the perspective, “if I could do it over again, I’d do it better.” What’s wrong with that? I think it is better to realize that you could have done things differently rather than being completely unaware of how you came to be. Appreciate self for reflecting on the past and understanding that you have grown. It’s not easy to revisit regrets, but it is a step towards self-awareness and self-discovery.
If the situation involved others, consider that they, too, did the very best that they could and may have a different way of acting/reacting to an experience. Your experience of yourself is unique, your experience of someone else is unique, their experience of themselves is unique, and their experience of you is unique. It’s easy to get caught up in right and wrong when everyone has a different definition of those two ego-driven words. Also, just as you had certain reasons for your actions/reactions, so did that other person…
- Appreciate them for being a part of your experience.
- Appreciate them for providing an opportunity for self-growth and self-awareness.
- Appreciate them for sharing a moment in your life.
Take responsibility for your past self and your past experiences. You can only “blame” yourself. Yes, another person may have had an influence on your situation, but you are the only one who determines how you react/act to an experience. By taking responsibility for your past you can allow an acceptance, a forgiveness, and an understanding of who you are today.
Take time to understand and forgive the situation – then and now. The longer the situation goes unaddressed (is run away from), the longer it will be a factor (influence present day). That’s not to say dwell on it, but it is important to take time, emotion, and effort to reflect on the past so you can move on in the present.
Write down your experience of the situation. Our thoughts and emotions are real, but it may help to make them physically real by putting a pen to paper…
- What happened?
- When did it happen?
- How did I feel before it happened?
- How did I feel when it happened?
- How did I feel after it happened?
- Why do I think it happened?
- Why did I react or act the way that I did?
- Was this situation a symptom/result of a larger personal issue/cause?
- What is the root cause/issue of my reaction or action?
- What were my assumptions and judgements of the situation then?
- What are my assumptions and judgments of the situation now?
- What is the true situation? Not just my truth.
- What can I learn from my past experience?
- How much does my past experience affect my present day? (thinking about it and/or running away from it)
- Why does it affect me?
- What will it take for me to be happy now?
- Can I forgive others in the situation?
- Can I forgive myself?
- Can I appreciate and be thankful for my experience?
There is a progression in healing old wounds. Be open to that progression. Be open to your feelings, your thoughts, and your emotions. Take time and make an effort to understand why they exist. Take responsibility for yourself and only yourself. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Appreciate your experiences then and now because you wouldn’t be who you are today without them.