Regret is part of a sense of loss that we carry in ourselves. Regret and shame are often related.
Remember the time you said something and later regretted saying it? Or you wish that you had responded differently to a situation and believe that there is nothing you can do about it right now? Regret is a contributing factor to feeling bad, depressed, and anxious. Combine that with obsessive thinking and you are living in a very crowded emotional room.
Let’s change the way you hold the regret. Yes, you can change your brain and your body’s response to what you tell it.
Moving from Regret to Regrowth:
Regret keeps you in the same place: unrelenting and taunting, teasing you with memories that just won’t stop!
1. When the memory of the regretful moment rears it’s ugly head, stop the thought: change it: go into the thought of the regret, ask: Is there anything I can do about it Right Now? Probably the answer is NO- This is where you can change the thought:
(Say to yourself) Since there is absolutely nothing I can do about it right now, thinking about it will not change my Scenario of Regret. I need to focus on the here and now and be present in this moment.
Best way to do this:
Look around a room and identify the objects in the room. One object at a time: start with anything that is in the room or on your person: ie count the threads on a couch, the dots on wall paper. Remember to keep breathing while you do this exercise.
Why it works?
It keeps you focused and it inhibits the thoughts from bursting into your brain. You have begun to change the way you hold the regret.
If you believe that you can “redo” the moment of regret. Then do it. No, don’t burst in and say I didn’t mean to … and fill in the blanks- think about how you want that redo moment to go- What do you regret? How would you have done it differently? Would it be possible to have another go at it? If not, then write a letter to yourself about how you would do it differently?
2. Since there is nothing I can do about it right now, how disturbing is it to me right now on a scale from 1-10?
1-4: know that in time it will fade away. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and then use it as a tool for growth.
5-7: Your regretful thoughts probably intrude upon your daily living more than you would like. Your thoughts stop you from being present in the moment. Make a daily date with Mindfulness Moments. Your brain needs you to begin to rewire it! Yes, the brain can change!
8-10: Totally obsessed! Do the mindfulness exercises and… If obsessing is part of your daily life how does it interrupt you from your life? For some people, medication can be helpful. Other ways of learning to cope with a totally obsessed life is do self-hypnosis or cognitive therapy. You can change how you cope with being obsessed. Work for inner peace and change your brain!
How does holding on to regret affect mental health?
The more you hold onto regret the more of a hold it has on you. You live in the past instead of the present. Eckhart Tolle speaks about the past, the future and the here and now, (paraphrasing.)..live in the past and you are depressed, live in the future and you are anxious, live in the present and you find peace.
Holding onto regret gives voice to your inner critic. Affecting your ability to take risks in the future or inhibiting you from letting go of emotional binds that keep you stuck. Let go of regret and learn to self soothe and develop a stronger sense of self.