THE BLOG

Don't Get Stuck in Regret

11/23/2012 11:09 am ET | Updated Jan 21, 2013

The theme of my week personally and professionally (which happens so often) is: You really can't change the past. No matter how much you try, wish, cry... what's done is done. And too often, too many of us get stuck in the trying -- or get stuck in regret.

This week, I happened to run into some people from my past that reminded me of love lost, friendships that didn't survive, and some painful moments when I'd done/experienced things that didn't represent me at my best. At this stage of the game, I don't feel regretful very often, but this week, I found myself back in the same old feelings of days long gone. As always, I took to my chair for meditation, and used my tools to put it all back where it belonged. I had to get back to me, and stay present in my life today.

Most of my clients this week had a theme of being stuck in regret. And I laughed to myself because I was actually in the middle of doing the same round of work on myself that I was asking them to do. Since I was so raw in this area, I was even more able to help than usual.

As I always explain, therapy doesn't make your triggers and emotional pains of the past magically disappear. It helps to shrink some, but mostly it gives you the awareness and tools needed to respond differently, therefore having different outcomes in your life. But we will always have the propensity to go back to our default spot of reactivity. And I am happy to report that within a few hours, I personally worked it all out -- and let the past say in the past.

I often think of the lyrics to my all-time favorite Garth Brooks song called "The Dance":

And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I'd have had to miss the dance

It helps me to remember the truth -- that we would miss out on life if we knew how it all would go. The challenges of life lie in the not knowing -- in the trying -- in the hoping, and the rewards at the end are so much greater.

The lesson: Staying stuck in regret is the biggest waste of our energy. It's okay to feel the sadness and regret -- but only briefly -- you then must force yourself to move forward.

We need to remind ourselves that if we don't go through the mistakes, we don't get to where we're supposed to be headed. And for me personally, I love the life I have created, so to regret doesn't really make sense. And it's the things that hurt me the most that have made it possible for me to now have the things I cherish the most. And for anyone reading this, you need to pay attention to the same things. If you aren't happy with your life, then let's do something new today so you don't end up regretting this year as well.

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