Have you regret something that you did in the past or reflect on it and use it a learning curve for your future life ahead? Whether you chose to pursue a relationship with the wrong partner, missed out on a job opportunity or let go of a romantic relationship too quickly, you can think back to a time (or two or three) that you’ve made a mistake in your life. Often these aren’t recognized as errors until you’ve made your choice and had the opportunity to reflect back on our decision and the consequences that followed.
Unfortunately, mistakes are a part of life and making peace with your mistakes is an essential part of growing wiser. When you can view the errors of your past with a balance of regret and self-reflection, you enable yourself to move on to the future by learning from the past. While a certain amount of regret can serve as a useful tool to help you from making the same mistakes time and time again, you need to be careful not to become trapped by your regret.
To help you find the right balance between regret and reflection, ask yourself these questions:
What Did I Learn From This Experience?
Look at what you can take away from this experience that can be used to make a different decision in the future. When you start to succumb to guilt and shame regarding your regret, remind yourself that the experience was a learning experience and then look for a time when you proved that you learned your lesson and made a different choice in a similar situation.
What Outside Circumstances Contributed to My Situation?
One contributing factor that can lead to debilitating regret is that you take on all the blame for the events that conspired. While it’s healthy to take responsibility for your actions and learn from your mistakes, there is a good chance that you’re too hard on yourself. Look at the big picture and pinpoint all the circumstances led to your regrettable decision. By identifying these outside circumstances, you can relieve yourself of some of the guilt and be more aware of these happenings in the future.
What Good Came From This Experience?
Whether your mistake led you to change risky behaviors or led you to a deeper appreciation of the people in your life, it’s important to remind yourself of the good that came about from your mistake. If you fail to recognize the good, you fail to acknowledge the growth and risk becoming mired in the past, rather than moving on into the future.
If you fail to reflect on your past mistakes and your regrets than you can fail to learn and grow from these experiences. On the other hand, you can ruminate on these past mistakes and hold too tightly to shame and guilt over mistakes of your past. Whether you never reflect on your regrets or become overwhelmed by them, your future happiness is at risk if you don’t find the right balance. Looking back to your mistakes and finding the right balance of reflection and regret is the first step to forgiving yourself and is essential for your growth and well-being.