This article is a bit out of character from the rest of my site (obviously) but it’s a discussion that I want to have with my readers nonetheless.
While finance holds a very special place in my heart, I also love studying human behavior and psychology. Back in high school, I had dreamed of being a therapist when I became older, and came to the realization that that dream is going to have to wait for a bit since the schooling required to become a therapist is super rigorous and is furthermore, expensive. I have super high hopes that I’ll still have the ability to learn and grasp new concepts when I’m older and am more financially stable to throw a couple thousand towards college and not give a damn.
Which begs the question, what if it doesn’t go entirely as planned, what if I don’t amass the money I need to go to school? Or if I just don’t have the capability to learn and study like I did 20 years ago? What if I don’t even reach that age at all and die tomorrow? Or this week? Maybe sometime this month? Year? I would not be left with anything but just regret. Painful and sad regret.
Like every other emotion, it’s all on a spectrum, and depending on the situation, we find ourselves within that said spectrum. In my scenario, it’s probably somewhere between a small - medium size regret. Sure, it’s saddening to me who anticipated to getting a phd in Psych but couldn’t because I either; have trouble learning at my old age or just don’t have the money for it. But what if you’re suffering a lot more than what I am?
While, yes, my regret is perfectly valid and it’s no competition to see who feels more guilty and regretful about their past versus others, not all regrets are alike. We all face our own individual battles and our own challenges. They are still emotions we all felt, some stronger than others.
It can be as painful as a parent who neglected their kid for so many years and feels regret for not being in their kids’ life after some time. Maybe it deals with a vice and how it took away your money, health, and relationships away from you. You’ve neglected or harmed your partner in some way. Maybe you didn’t have the courage to express yourself to someone on how you felt towards them and let them slip by. Perhaps you wanted to distance yourself from friends, but simply just ended up no longer contacting them and distanced yourself for good.
All reasons to be regretful and guilty about. Situations that have negatively impacted you. You’re self loathing, anxious, unhappy, stuck, confused, and sad. You feel as if you’ve done wrong and nothing you do from that point on can be right. You feel as if every living day the person you harmed, the person you neglected, be it yourself or anyone else, can’t fucking forgive you. You just fall into this endless pit of despair and it drives you mad and frustrated.
Your past constantly haunts you, it affects and ruins your present and future. At some point, you feel as if you must get out of this cycle of feeling regretful… no, you must get out of this cycle of regret.
The first thing to do and probably one of the toughest is acceptance. Accept that what occurred in the past happened in the past. Accept that you cannot change what occurred in your past and the best you can do now is learn from your errors and look forward to a new and better chapter in your life.
Two, prevent it from happening again in the future. See how I said to “prevent” rather than “never do it again.” We are flawed, to say to never do something again in our lifetime is impossible. If we accidentally end up doing the action that caused us regret in the first place, the second time around will be a lot tougher than the first time around. Rather than having the mentality that you can never make the same error again, approach the issue in a way where you try to prevent it from happening again, because you never know.
Three, avoid any triggers that cause your negative thoughts. Catch those bad thoughts and images of yourself and distract yourself. If you so happen to get triggered, be prepared, take a quick break, take deep breathes, create happy and positive imagery, and reassure yourself that you are strong.
Four, appreciate the things and people that surround you. Needless to say, your concerns and regrets lessen when you realize how blessed you are to be surrounded by the people you want to be surrounded with. In the environment you like to be in.
Lastly, forgive and apologize. Not only to those you might have harmed, but including yourself as well. Your regret will only continue to bring bad emotions and pain into your life, realize that it is never too late to ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself.
It’s not too late to be in your kids life, it’s not too late to seek help on overcoming addiction and getting you on the right path, it’s not too late to ask your partner what you can do to make things better between you two, it’s not too late to tell the person you love that you love them, it’s not too late to get in contact with one of your friends.