Do you know that tight feeling in your stomach, chest, and other parts of your body that you can’t put your finger on? What’s that feeling that won’t go away no matter how hard you try?
Regret is an intense and often all-consuming emotion. But here’s a fact you can count on: regret impacts everyone on the planet. And not just once, but several times! Wishing you hadn’t done or said something — or that you hadn’t done or said anything — is a natural part of life.
Sometimes, you acted in a way that harmed you, a situation, or the people you care about. You’re unable to let go of your feelings of remorse and shame for what you’ve done. You’re confident that you’re a bad guy. You’re stuck, unworthy of love and pleasure, and downright deceitful. You’ve convinced yourself that you’re a psychopath.
Negative thoughts and feelings that accompany memories of that thing you did exacerbate the situation. You’re hurting yourself because of your low self-esteem, which leads to further stress and despair. You’re destroying your relationships because you believe you don’t deserve to be loved. This belief creates barriers between you and the people who matter most in your life, preventing genuine contact. Holding on to negative thoughts, attitudes, and judgments about yourself harms your career, health, soul, and promising future happiness.
1. Be aware of your emotions.
If you’ve ever been urged to “cheer up” or “see on the bright side,” we’ve got some good news for you: it’s not necessarily good advice. Allowing yourself to feel bad has been shown to aid in the processing of an unpleasant event. Not only that but suppressing emotions may exacerbate the problem. Participants who bottled up their feelings while seeing a scary film acted more aggressively than those who expressed themselves, according to a 2011 study.
2. Make a list of the facts about you
If you’ve been in the throes of this guilt and suffering cycle for a long time, you may be lacking perspective. Putting your ideas into written words, Similar to writing about your experiences on a blog, can help you acknowledge what happened and the mistakes you made, allowing you to move forward. However, for this one, leave your emotions at the door (they color your experience). Simply write down what occurred precisely as it occurred, with no judgments.
3. Allow someone else to enter.
When it comes to guilt, we have a strong desire to keep our mistakes hidden from others. This is an attempt at self-preservation: if no one knows, no one can judge us. Keeping our pain to ourselves, similar to why you should feel your feelings, may worsen things. If not for the basic fact of being heard and supported by another human, talking things out may be a profound experience. With their help, this experience will be less solitary. Of course, taking that step might be pretty tricky. Remember, you might just state you’re not ready to get into specifics yet, but you’ll still need their help. Never underestimate the therapeutic value of a hug or a long Facetime chat.
4. Take care of yourself.
Guilt is exhausting for both the body and the mind. And, as you’ve already heard, cortisol, sometimes known as the stress hormone, has a variety of detrimental impacts on the body.
One way to deal with these stressful feelings is to do things that make you happy. We’re talking about some good ol’ #SelfCare here. Although everyone’s self-care routine is unique, here are some tried-and-true suggestions.
5. Make thankfulness a habit
This may appear to be the absolute last thing you want to do. Or perhaps it seems to be completely inconsequential. But take our word for it: gratitude is a tremendous tool for healing internal traumas. People in psychotherapy who complemented treatment sessions with gratitude journaling had more significant mental health than those who didn’t, according to a 2018 study. A straightforward method to incorporate thankfulness into your daily life is to start a gratitude journal.
6. Recognize that humans are flawed beings.
You are a member of the species if you are reading this. You will make mistakes, some major and some minor. Your regret shows that you are concerned. This is a positive development. On the other hand, long-term sadness can negatively impact your relationships, work, health, and other aspects of your life. Choose a mantra for yourself. Believe in yourself. It may be something like this: “I am a fallible human.” I make blunders. Regardless, I am a friendly and lovable person.”
7. Catch yourself in the act of negative self-talk! It can appear to be so routine that it goes unnoticed at first.
Negative messages should be slowed down. Listen to your inner monologue. Deliberately question them and replace negative words with positive ones. Perhaps the polar opposite viewpoint is more accurate. When I tell myself, “I’m a moron!” I should never have done that!” The resulting emotion is a shame. “Whoa, I could’ve done better,” I say. Next time, I’ll try something different.” As a result, you’ll be more motivated to work harder in the future.
8. Take pride in your positive attributes.
Take a breather and assess the situation. How did you get to this point in your life? What is it about you that draws people to you? What makes you humorous, loving, dependable, intelligent, intriguing, or various other attractive qualities? Accept responsibility for your values and contributions. They are real. Keep in mind what makes you unique.
9. Forgive yourself
Regret and bitterness enslave you to bad ideas and feelings. Allow yourself the freedom to accept your flaws, faults, and lapses in judgment. Apologize to people who have been harmed, and trust that you will grow into a more robust, wiser person in the future.
Our regrets frequently have multiple levels. Fears and emotions of shame over who we were, who we hoped to be, and how our lives turned out today make up these layers. But we’re designed to be flawed, to make mistakes. This isn’t a cliche or a meaningless affirmation. This is a proven fact. This reality is vital, even if the effects are rarely pretty—often painful and challenging. This is an incredible fact.