Step One: Look for the lessons. Take some time to do some journaling about what you learned from whatever it is that you are regretting. What did you learn about yourself? What did you learn about someone else? What patterns do you see? What are you noticing about your reactions and responses? All situations in life are rich with learning. When you look at your past, view it from a learning-oriented perspective rather than a shoulda coulda woulda perspective.
Rewinding time is not possible, but “do-overs” actually are. Of course, we cannot get a do-over of the exact same situation, but the universe will deliver to you similar situations where you will get to practice what you learned. The first time it happened, you didn’t know any better. The second time you’ll know a little more, so you can do a little better.
Step Two: Take action. Regret keeps us stuck in the past, so ask yourself what you need to do right now to support yourself in moving forward. Is there support you need? Is there a conversation you need to have? Are there some boundaries you need to set and hold yourself accountable to? Regret is a reactive response. Identifying and committing to action steps you can take now is proactive. Reactive responses keep you stuck; proactive responses move you forward. You want to move forward, don’t you?
Step Three: Forgive yourself! This is the most important (and often most challenging) part. We all make so-called mistakes. Remember, you are a human being, so stop placing an expectation on yourself that you are supposed to get it “right” all of the time! Remember the truth: You did the best you could. You did the best you could. You did the best you could with what you knew at the time. Really. I encourage you to say to yourself, “I forgive myself for buying into the misunderstanding that I did something wrong. The truth is that I was doing the best I could.” Repeat that several times. Breathe. Take it in.
You do not have to suffer from regret. You can stop beating yourself up; it is not serving you. Learn, take action, forgive and stop looking behind you. Turn around. See what is right in front of you… and, better yet, what lies ahead.