Are there things you’ve done in your life that regret? I wish I could say I can’t relate but I can. Whether it be the last line I said in a conversation (yes, the overthinker in me replays most conversations in my head nine times over), the mistake I made at my job, or the guilt following the numerous times I’ve used my words to eviscerate a friend. Moreover, regret makes a home in the midst of the deeper pains like losing a loved one or passing on love. We have all live with regret at one point or another. Regret, for lack of better words, is self-torture.
So what do you do when your mistakes and regrets seem to follow you without your permission? Let me first start by saying, I don’t believe there is a formula, a “one size fits all” to the emotional ails we experience. There are multiple ways to deal and overcome regret. Yet, there are a few things I’ve been able to glean from regret that can produce real change and growth.
Here are the steps I took that may help you to transform regret into growth:
- Internalize that growth cannot happen without the pain you experienced. Easier said than done, right? The minute you erase the thing, event, or person that triggered your regret, you forfeit all the good byproducts and growth that come from pain. Growth is a byproduct of change and change isn’t easy. But change brings along with it a slew of different characteristics like wisdom, discernment, integrity, patience, and determination. Because of change, your perspective will get little wider, your view a little clearer. The repercussions of a painful event or circumstance are more valuable than you realize and ultimately give you the wisdom you have today.
- Leave the regret behind. You can choose to leave it. Right there on the spot. There are only a few things I regret that have followed me from season to season. For me, regret always seemed to linger showing its face when I felt weakest or when I was confronted with failure. That feeling is hard to shake. In reality, regret is just that; it’s a feeling. It’s an emotional response to a painful experience. One day when scrolling through instagram and thinking about a specific regret I carried, I by the grace of God, stopped myself mid-scroll. I immediately asked myself, “Why am I letting myself get stuck here?” In other words, why do I allow myself to keep visiting the well of regret? Regret only has staying power if you let it. There is nothing you can do to change the past. And the guilt over missed chances or opportunities will return void. There is nothing left for you in the world of regret. Choose to leave it.
- Redeem the next step. The most helpful thing in transforming regret into growth is the ability to apply what I’ve learned in the very next step I take. For example, I went in for a job interview and completely bombed it. The worst part was I knew I was just intimidated by the group interview and I knew they prospective employer would love me if I had done well. To be honest, I lived in regret for the next day or two wondering, “What if?” When I decided to leave regret, I was freed from it. But as soon as I decided to redeem the next step and work on my confidence, I grew from it. Take action. Make your next step redemptive. With the rise of cancel culture, it’s easy to hang our head in shame and drown in regret. Instead of dying from cancel culture, let’s live in redemption culture. Redemption means to gain or regain possession of something. Your next step after regret is prime real estate to regain ground you may have lost. Take a step.
My wish for you is to be able to take whatever it is that has you stuck in regret, and transform that into redemptive growth. It’s the main reason I share my wins and losses on this blog. It’s the reason I write about anxiety or failing. In my failure I hope that you can see that those extremely painful things in your life can actually produce the most beautiful fruit.
And gosh… I really hope you grow.