Do you ever say to yourself "I shouldn't have [fill in the blank]?"
"I should never have trusted Mary."
"I shouldn't have married your father."
"I shouldn't have accepted that invitation."
"I shouldn't have taken that job."
Hindsight is 20/20.
We spend waaaay too much time regretting decisions we've made. And why is that? You make decisions based on the information and experience you have at the time. Can you predict the future? Do you have any idea how something is going to turn out.? No, of course you don't. Yet so often we think that the key to making a decision is knowing the outcome.
Uh, hello? How can you possibly know the outcome of something before you've actually done the thing you're deciding to do? And if knowing the outcome is something you think you need to have when making a decision, you're screwed. I hate to break it to you, but you'll never know. You can make educated guesses and project, but you don't really know. Not for sure. And it's important you rid yourself of that expectation if you don't want to remain paralyzed by indecision.
When thinking about triggering situations and circumstances, you have to be incredibly mindful about the way you process your emotions. Emotions operate on a feedback loop. The more you feel something, the more you're going to feel it. For example, if when you get angry, you give vent to your rage - scream, yell, cuss up a storm - and allow it to swallow you up, you're going to get angrier and stay angry longer if you aren't careful to constructively express your anger. You are human and you are going to experience emotions. Anger is actually a really helpful one if you harness it correctly. But freaking the eff out just to freak the eff out doesn't serve you. The same holds true for feeling hurt, regret, frustration, etc. The more you stay in the place of immersion in the emotion, the more likely that you'll get stuck there and the emotion will continue to feed on itself.
Instead, place a limit on it. Say to yourself "I'm really [insert emotion here] right now and I'm going to give myself 5 whole minutes to lose my shit then I'm going to process what I got out of this."
Regret is a complete and utter waste of your time. Instead of spending time browbeating yourself for making a decision that led to a less than ideal outcome, take some time to process what you *gained* from the situation. There's pretty much no chance at all that you didn't learn something. You learned something from whatever experience you now feel you shouldn't have had. Staying in regret places you in a victim mindset. You think of it as something that happened to you instead of an experience that provided you with a valuable understanding.
An experience that you participated in, by the way. You made a choice that put you on that path, whatever it is. Own it, make the most of it, and move on from it.
Important note here. Positive emotions operate on a feedback loop, too. The more you allow yourself to feel good, the better you're going to feel. We place too much emphasis on the negative and don't bask enough in the positive. You're in control of you react and how good or bad you feel.
Take some time to think about a regret that's been eating you and do the exercise above. Let it go so you can move on to bigger and better things.
Photo by Devon Janse van Rensburg