Ending the Torment of Regret

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015

Ending the Torment of Regret

This is real life. You will be asked to make decisions that will bring you to your knees. You will wrestle and grapple with whatever it is. You will shed tears of agony and pain and then… You will choose, because you must. You will do the very best you can in that moment. And then….

Regret will set in. It may creep in slowly, or it may hit you like a bullet train. Your mind will tell you stories about how the other choice would have been better. The other choice would have had less suffering. The other choice would have been right, good, and happy. Your ego will judge you with the weight of 100,000 elephants crushing your soul.

  • You’re stupid
  • You should have known better
  • You’re selfish
  • You’re lazy
  • You’re a coward
  • You’re damned

The self-hate will be its own unique form of torture. You will feel like you are drowning in shame. It will consume your every waking thought and appear in your dreams. You will beg the universe on your knees to give you a time machine- just this once- so you can go back and choose differently.

But the time machine never comes, and all that is left is the inner darkness.

Then hopefully, when you are ready, you will find support. You will find someone who will not judge you, someone who is kind. He or she will listen to your story, and offer the salve of compassion to your soul, and teach you how to apply it yourself.

  • It was a hard decision
  • You did the best you could
  • It’s ok you were scared
  • You don’t really know that the other choice would have brought lees suffering
  • There was no right choice
  • You don’t have to punish yourself

“But,” the ego will protest, “I screwed up. I’m suffering. Clearly there was a right choice- the other choice.”

“When we are stuck in the grip of ego, there is no choice that is free from suffering,” the compassionate voice will gently remind us.

So what to do with regret? How do we find joy again after our hearts have been so broken?

1) Find compassionate support. It’s ok to pick and choose whom you talk to about your situation.

2) Focus on what can be done. Can you change it, undo it, or make amends in someway? Sometimes situations are reversible if we have the courage to speak up, be vulnerable, apologize, or make amends. If it cannot be undone, then committing to acceptance is the only sane thing to do.

3) Allow time.

4) Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what now seems obvious in hindsight.” ~ Judy Belmont

5) Grieve. Often with regret there is something to grieve. This doesn’t mean you made a wrong decision. It just means you couldn’t make both, and so you are grieving the one you did not choose. Allow your grief to ebb and flow and offer it your kind attention.

6) Work with your mind. The mind can be your worst enemy. Don’t believe everything you think. Practice mindfulness meditation- label your thoughts thinking and then return to the present moment. Choose this moment, the only moment that ever is. Be present as fully as you can with your broken heart wide open and vulnerable. Breathe in all that it means to be alive, the full range of human experience.

7) Commit to finding compassion for yourself and what you have been through, as well as compassion for others. It does seem that our pain helps lift the veil of separateness, connecting us to others in a more open hearted way.

Sending you my sincere wish that you find relief from your regrets.





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