Killing Regret

"An old Cherokee taught his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”"

Regret is something that every single person in the world feels, at one point or another. It’s the feeling of knowing that you did or didn’t do something that you should or shouldn’t have done. It slowly brings you down until you feel as if you are at your all time low. It comes in many different forms, and it can be a major contributor to illnesses such as depression and anxiety. However, if we continue to feed our demons when it comes to regret, remorse can ultimately lead to an unnecessary amount of suffering.

Sometimes it can feel like regret is killing you, but here are four tips to kill regret:

  1. Remember what you should be grateful for. Regret is being upset about a situation, because of something you or someone else did or didn’t do. This can be exacerbated when you constantly overthink your situation, and put it in a negative light. If you only ever feed your brain with negative, remorseful or shameful thoughts, you’re convincing yourself that these negative things are more prevalent in your life than the good things, which if you change your perspective, can be proven wrong. This is why being grateful for the great things in your life can ultimately shape the mindset you adopt throughout your life. The decisions you make, or others make, in relation to your life, shape you and make you who you are. There’s always so much to be grateful for, if we pay attention to those things. It’s so much easier to focus on the bad things, and we often forget to look at what we have. Often, the privileges, the opportunities for change, and the moments we have enjoyed outweigh the sadness and despair that we feel consumes us. Be realistically thankful for the roof over your head, the food you eat every day, the love you’re surrounded with, and the privileges you have; you’ll find that regrets seem minuscule in comparison.

  2. Learn from mistakes. We often live within our regrets. They consume us; the “Shoulda, coulda, woulda,” mentality is what we tend to follow. However, if we want to look at our regrets, the best thing we can do is to learn from them. The past is gone now, and decisions have been made. As we look back at those decisions, the last thing we should be doing is hating ourselves for them. Instead, we need to be able to look at the past in a healthy way, and reflecting and learning from the mistakes we’ve made, is an effective way to do so.

  3. Live in the present. We can’t change the past, but we can dictate the future (to some extent), by acting in the present. Reflecting and learning effectively from the past is honestly the only thing we can take out of it. Other than those lessons, the past truly ceases to exist. The future doesn’t exist either; all we really have is now. Sure, the impacts of the past dictate the future, but more so, the impacts of the present can dictate the future. Plus, the present in comparison, is the only time that is in our control. Take the goodness out of the past, apply it to the present, and be patient with the future. Dwelling in the past and anticipating the future is a waste of what you have now. The present is all we have; let’s embrace it.

  4. Forgive. Forgiving and loving yourself and others through hard times, is one of the most difficult things to do. However, it’s necessary in the journey towards a happier life, to be kind and accepting through the faults we all have. This isn’t implying that we should allow ourselves to be walked all over. However, it does mean that it may be best to stop holding grudges against ourselves, or others, because of something that has been said or done. Allowing those feelings of resentment to dissolve can be extremely relieving. Of course, upset feelings are valid and allowed, but holding on to these emotions excessively can certainly become unhealthy and detrimental. Allow yourselves to feel those emotions, but if they start to dictate anyone’s lives, it’s best to forgive and learn to love yourself and others, regardless of events in the past.

Battling regret can be astoundingly difficult. It’s something we all have to face, but not by being caught up in heartache, or disappointment. To overcome regret means to embrace it, and look at it from a perspective that allows for the good wolf to win the fight.