Learning To Let Go Of Regrets
I often write about things that haunt me. It’s my way to share my path and process. As I learn how to untangle myself from my emotional handicaps – which are universal – I write about the methods and results.
Today, I want to write about something I’ve learned quickly and well: letting go of regrets. To me this particular lesson was a sink or swim. Let me give you an example. When I lived in NYC, I was married to a man for 11 years. I made a youthful mistake – I was 20 years-old when we got married. Within the first year of marriage, I already knew I was not happy, he was not happy, and we would never be happy together. But, I stayed for another 10 years. I stayed because I kept thinking that maybe I could turn the mistake into something positive. I stayed because each year that passed, I thought I had more invested and therefore had to try harder to make something of it. And I stayed, because I was afraid of making a mistake by leaving. In essence, all the wrong reasons for staying in a relationship.
When I finally left, I was too fragile to have any regrets. Once I felt my strength coming back, so did the regrets. But, somehow I didn’t dwell on them. For a very short time, I gave voice to the anger I felt for having wasted so much of my life in a very unhappy situation. I knew if I spent too much time crying and then blaming myself, I would soon be crying and blaming myself for crying and blaming myself. It’s a vicious cycle.
I said to myself: “Deborah, what you have done is done. Now, move on and next time you find yourself in a situation that you’re not happy with, don’t stay in it.”
I’m happy to say that not only I learned to let go of regrets, but I have also learned the lesson about not staying in a situation that is uncomfortable. So, anytime regret knocks on my door my response is: there is no one home.
Read on for some suggestions on how to deal with regrets.
Reversing Regrets: 7 Steps to Moving On
by Robert Leahy Ph.D.
All of us have regrets at some time. It may be spending too much time in a problematic relationship, buying something you realize is not what you thought it would be, wearing a tie that clashes with your jacket, or eating too much dessert. For me, it was buying Lehman Brothers stock before the company crashed. We all find ourselves at times caught in an endless loop of negative self-recrimination — “I could have, should have, would have.” Sometimes the negative voice lasts a few minutes, sometimes a few days, and sometimes years. Are you stuck in your regrets? You are not alone…Continued