One of the songs by the late Frank Sinatra had this line in it: “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.” He did mention those regrets, however, so it would seem even the famous and wealthy have memories from their past that stay with them and cause them mental discomfort.
There is no doubt that all of us have regrets, no matter what our financial status, job or family situation. We might wish we had done something else with our skills and talents. We might think about the times we passed up opportunities that may never come again. All of these can be the source of true regret.
What Does it Mean?
In the dictionary you will see that the definition of regret involves thinking about something with a feeling of loss or sorrow. The key to a happy existence and to moving forward is to put the past behind us, keeping those thoughts from occupying our minds any more than necessary.
How do we do that?
First of all, we have to convince ourselves that we are not alone in having regrets. Sometimes the mistakes we made and the opportunities we passed up seem to outnumber anything that anyone else can come up with. While some people do have more regrets than others, the truth is we are not alone. Start reminding yourself every day that we all have regrets. Say, “I am not alone in this.”
Many parents have regrets about the way their children “turned out.” But one way to get rid of regrets is to face the situation directly, talk with that adult child and let them know how you feel. Don’t carry the emotions and thoughts around inside. Parents who have had this conversation with their older children often find that the “kids” are all right, really. Of course, we all have problems and our children will continue to have problems when they have their own families. But a face-to-face visit and a frank discussion about regrets can clear the air and let you move on.
It is important to put the past behind if you have regrets about your health or about a lifestyle that has contributed to your current illness Try to remind yourself every day that the past is over and you have to do the best you can with what you have today. This is not easy but it is possible.
If it seems impossible to let go of something as large as a serious illness caused by past actions, start by letting go of something a little smaller. Accept that you are who you are and let go of a regret about not buying a certain home or making a specific investment that might have turned out well. This will get you in the habit of letting go of regrets. It may be possible to address a “bigger” regret after you have had some practice.
Finally, say out loud, “I was responsible for that. But it’s over and I am going to embrace the future with what I have now.”