There is nothing worse. That feeling of sadness over a missed opportunity or disappointment over something that we've done wrong or, well, severely messed-up can be consuming. We run the situation through our minds over and over again, clearly recognizing where everything took a wrong turn, and worse, the part that was all our fault.
So what do you do about it? How do you handle the feelings?
If it's a Person You've Wronged
If it's a person that you've wronged, you should make amends and get some closure. If the person is accessible, you may want to apologize and ask for forgiveness (I have a very helpful post on how to do this). Let the person know that you are taking responsibility for what you've done, and you want to know what you need to do to make the situation right. They may or may not accept your apology, but at least you can put the situation to rest and know that you tried your best. If the person is not around, or you can't get in touch with them, try writing a letter to them that you may never send. At the very least this may get some of your feelings out and help you process and make sense of them.
If it's Poor Decisions You've Made In the Past
In this case, you may have wronged yourself. Was it an addiction? Did you not live up to your potential in school or at work? Did you get into a toxic relationship? In this case, you may need to be honest with yourself, forgive yourself, and make some difficult decisions that may require you to change your course.
No matter what the situation, these are issues that your counselor can help you work through and help you move on.
One advantage to regret is that it can help us learn from our past mistakes and help us examine how we treat others and ourselves. Regret has a negative connotation in our society mainly because all negative emotions have a negative connotation in our society. Forgiving ourselves as we reflect on the situations can motivate us to make different decisions in our lives.
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling in Oaklyn, NJ.