Are you holding on to pain of the past? It isn’t helping you. In fact, the insidious regret from the last couple decades that has slithered its way into you, even now threatens to cloud your perspective, hinder your decision making, and disturb your peace of mind. So why are you still lugging it around?
It’s yours. You have the power to do with it what you will — whether that’s cling to your shabby mental baggage for life or cast it away for good.
Just in case you decide on the latter, here are a few tips on clearing the air.
The only possible application for regret is that it helps us resolve not to repeat mistakes. Outside of that, it has no purpose. Regret comes too late to affect an outcome, and it can leave you blind to opportunity and paralyzed with self-doubt. Acknowledge that which you would have done differently — or rather that which you will do differently in the future — and let it go. It’s been said many times by many people wiser than I: it’s the things you don’t do that you regret. When you can forgive yourself your humanity and your past mistakes, you’ll be free to live a life you won’t have to regret not living.
Fear is the future tense of regret. And like regret, it offers little benefit and worlds of hurt. Don’t let fear hide in justification; one of its most destructive qualities is that it’s destructive. I can’t try that now, I’m too busy with this. I would do that, but it’s not in my nature. They say you should live your life as if you were not afraid. As if you were not. We are all afraid of something. Acknowledge your fears and your doubts, then pursue what you want anyway. The big misconception is that people who are brave live without fear, when without fear there could be no courage. Be afraid. Act anyway.
Since “letting go” of unwanted regrets and fears is easier said than done, sometimes a tool or two can be helpful. Visualization is a technique used by athletes, therapists and artists, and it can be a powerful tool in ridding yourself of negative influences on your thinking. Be patient and open-minded. Changing your thinking doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible if you believe in your ability to change. Choose a memory of a regret that you often think of or a criticism you often have of yourself. It helps if the example is something you can see, like a specific incidence or a particular scenario you fear. Concentrate until the image is clear in your mind including the visual details, sounds and emotions. Then watch the entire scene get smaller and smaller, until it disappears entirely. If it’s clearer for you, you can place it in a box and send it out to sea or blow it up and watch the fragments scatter through the air.
Another application of visualization is the reinstatement of your positive, powerful thoughts. Picture yourself as you believe you can be — as confident, beautiful, compassionate and competent as your fullest potential can yield. Use all the detail you used in the past exercise and visualize yourself in the life you want. It may sound a little abstract, but it’s a technique that has been proven effective time and again. Your brain is susceptible to repetition, digging deeper and deeper trenches of belief the more an idea is reinforced. Visualization is one way of reversing the regret and doubt you’ve been feeding yourself and reinforcing your own power over your thoughts.
Replace bad habits with good ones
Change is not a passive activity. You can’t will away bad habits (it’s like telling yourself not to think about the elephant) but you can instate a positive habit every time you feel those negative thoughts rearing their heads. Replace self-criticism with self-praise. When you feel like despairing, look for the opportunity that has come from your disappointment. Embrace your fear, and acknowledge the courage it takes to act anyway. You can’t just pledge to stop eating so many empty carbs; you have to replace them with fruits and satisfying proteins and fats. If you’re tired of doubting yourself, you have to create a new mantra to replace your silent self criticism. If you lie awake berating yourself for what you haven’t done, concentrate instead on what you have accomplished.
Purging physical baggage can help reinforce your mental exorcism. Have you ever experienced that feeling of lightness or freedom once you clean out a closet or reorganize a garage? Our stuff surrounds us; it’s in our way and in our periphery whether we actively acknowledge it or not. Tell yourself you’re adopting a new outlook, free of the past and the future, and make changes to your space to emphasize and empower your choice. Get rid of everything you don’t need. Put them in storage if you must, but get them out of your way. And by all means, if you have remnants of old relationships and haunts from the past, dispel! You’ll feel free of the stuff that’s been holding you back, and you’ll have made room for your new, empowered endeavors.f