How to Overcome Regret and Move Forward

looking ahead
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No matter how big or small, regrets are an inescapable part of our lives. Whether it’s revealing too much information online, dating the wrong type of guy or imagining a life of possibilities à la Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors, we’ve all made slip-ups or blunders that have caused grief.

A negative cognitive and emotional state that involves self-blaming for less-than-desirable results, regret brings about a sense of loss or distress for something that might have been or a wish to undo past decisions. Northwestern University reports 44 percent of women have “romantic regrets” highlighting the degree in which they value relationships, specifically with trouble disengaging attention from past relations.

Fortunately, regrettable occurrences of all kinds can do us some good. According to a study from Concordia University, these moments of ‘regret’ can actually encourage us to change our relationships, careers, and everyday lives for the better. Through a sharper refocus of corrective action and daring attitude for moving forward, regret can help us better our situations by letting go of negativity.

Trust Your Instincts
A study from the University of Illinois found missed opportunities can actually haunt you. Blending regret with what-if scenarios can be incredibly debilitating to your health and mental well-being. To avoid such a path of damage, it’s crucial to trust your intuition. By identifying what’s pulling you down and trusting your gut, you’ll avoid missed opportunities in the future. Nevertheless, keep in mind it can be challenging — especially if others disagree with your instincts. Remember that no one knows what’s best for you than yourself. While your friends might think it’s a mistake giving up a career in law to pursue a career in theatre, only you know what will bring you purpose and happiness.

Take Risks
The missed opportunities in our life often leave us feeling the deepest form of remorse. Regarded as a “regret of inaction” by the University of Southern California, this is a result of us not exactly living the “YOLO” kind of lifestyle. We intentionally avoid risk due to personal fear and insecurity, and end up with regret. When you feel something important is worth pursuing deep down in your core, taking a risk is essential. Without playing fast and loose with life, risks can be managed with smart planning. The first step doesn’t always have to be a drastic one, either. By taking small steps every day, you can look back, see how it all adds up, and know you covered some distance to move forward. After all, success is the sum of small efforts repeated.

Embrace Relationships
This is your George Bailey epiphany moment. By evaluating relationships through identified regret and vulnerability, you can achieve social harmony to better your perspective for a renewed life. While removing unhealthy relationships from your life can be beneficial to your well-being, take this time to strengthen relationships that matter to you — old and new. If you hurt someone in the past, understand what inspired such actions and allow yourself to be more open and honest.

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Let It Go
If it impacts your relationships or personal life, lingering regret should be dealt with immediately. Life is unpredictable, but it’s important to recognize what’s in your control and what isn’t. If you’re dwelling on a damaged relationship, consider whether it’s within your power to fix it and then ask yourself if you even want to. Whatever happens in the end, it’s up to you to let go of the hurt and frustration by refocusing objectives so that you can move forward instead of storing up concern for the future.

Live in the Moment
By focusing on today and living in the moment, you’ll be able to make more sense of what’s happening now or in the near future. It’s no secret that we spend a lot of time thinking about the past and distant future, but that brings an abundance of worry. Your time could be better spent on things you enjoy right now. While it might seem tricky to balance future planning and living in the moment, consider how you spend your time and energy. If you follow your heart and truly listen to it, you won’t regret it — no matter how it turns out.