Got regrets? Read this.

I’m a little tardy in recapping what I’ve been doing lately, and I’m sorry about that. But I won’t be for long.

Yep, I’m over it. That’s because I re-read my June 5 piece at Get Rich Slowly, “The statute of limitations on regret.”

But seriously. I wrote about how I’m learning to eschew self-punishment (You screwed up, therefore you must suffer without ceasing.) Yes, I’ve made mistakes. I’ve also had mistakes thrust upon me. What matters is that I’ve gotten myself away from those situations, that I’m learning from my mistakes and that I keep moving.

That last part was the toughest. For quite a while I obsessed over the years that I felt I’d “lost.” They were gone, true, in that I didn’t fully live them. But how much more time was I going to lose focusing on how much time I’d lost?

I’d be interested in your feedback after you’ve read the piece.

Earlier this week I published “Can’t afford to socialize? Compromise!” at GRS. Even if you lack a receptacle into which to micturate or a casement through which to empty it, you can still have fun.

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  1. I love the word micturate. Used it myself in a comment earlier this week. 🙂

    Um… a growth mindsets mean taking the past as a learning experience and focusing on propelling yourself forward to the future.

  2. Donna Freedman

    That’s what I figure. These days when things go wrong I try to think, “What can I learn from this?” or “What am I supposed to take from this?” That is, after I’m doing wailing and gnashing my teeth and rending my garments.

  3. I liked your post about regrets! I spend a lot of time regretting my mistakes even though I am working hard to correct them.

  4. ImJuniperNow

    A highly successful person once asked me: If I had it to do over again, what would I do differently? My response – EVERYTHING.

    Sigh. I am convinced that my headstone will read “A life of promise never fulfilled” unless I get it together, too.

    How can I remove “Why did I do that/did that happen/can’t I” from my vocabulary?

    • Donna Freedman

      @ImJuniperNow: Practice, practice, practice. This may sound corny, but I have found that it really does matter how you phrase things. When I find myself ready to sigh, “I have to walk to the store/write an article/fix supper,” I turn it into, “I get to (do whatever).” Or when I start to say, “I’m so overwhelmed” or “I’m so tired,” I try to change it to, “I’m so challenged by this” or “It’s no wonder I’m tired — I’ve gotten a lot done today, so maybe I’ll take a half-hour nap and then finish.”
      And “why did I do that/I can’t believe I screwed up/that was such a huge mistake” becomes something along the lines of, “Oh boy, that wasn’t the smartest move — how can I recover in the short term and learn from it in the long term.”
      It’s rewiring your brain away from defeatist leanings. Does it work? Not always, but my success rate is increasing.
      I wouldn’t say I have it all together yet — but at least I know where it all is.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

      • It even has a name for it in cognitive behavioral therapy, “Cognitive restructuring” and it really does work (with a research base and everything)! Not in the way positive self-affirmations don’t work, but in the way that reframing things such that they’re still true and believable works.

        One of the exercises in CBT is to take a sheet of paper and fold it in half length-wise. Then on the left side, but down the defeatist thought. On the right side, put down a thought that is *true* but restructured. Then you work on replacing the left side with the right side in every day thoughts. One suggestion if you’re having trouble is to put a rubber band on your wrist and to snap it every time you have one of the defeatist thoughts to remind you to replace it with the positive.

      • My husband has taken on the credo ascribed to Neil Patrick Harris: “Whenever I get (sad/angry/frustrated/depressed/whatever) I stop being (whatever) and get AWESOME instead.” He finds this very inspiring. 🙂

  5. Carrie

    I think we all have regrets, but when you live your life in the past you cannot go forward.

  6. To let go of regret is never easy, as everyone commenting on this entry as noted. As tough as it may be, perhaps it’s time for every one of us to let go of what might have been and be grateful for what is in this moment. I struggle with this issue myself and find that I am my most authentic self when I make choices that reflect my values and ideas, not what other people value or think. Let go of all the conventional measures of success and instead, define success for yourself. I’m not saying that it is easy, but I am saying that it’s worth the struggle.

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