Ever hear of the saying “Don’t live in the past?” well it’s easier said than done. Whether it is people, moments, an opportunity you didn’t take, or a relationship you didn’t give enough time to– regrets will only hold you back in life.
These regrets can consume our minds; we spend all our time thinking about ‘what if’ and we begin missing out on the present and the future. We must be able to accept the fact that we cannot change what we did or did not do in the past. We must change our mindset and focus on what we have control over, the decisions we make in the present and in the future.
Here are some ways to help you let go of your regrets and focus on your present and future:
1. Balloon Exercise
Blow up as many balloons as you need. On each balloon write a regret that you have and then let the balloon go. When the balloon drifts off into the sky say goodbye to that regret forever. This is a simple yet powerful exercise that works and can change how you live your life.
2. Look for the hidden benefits
Instead of thinking of your regret as a negative go over how this experience taught you something. Think of each experience as a lesson and part of your growth as an individual in the journey of your life. Maybe this regret has taught you how to handle a similar situation in the future better, or taught you how to be a better person in future situations.
Related more: This Week in TED: The Secret To Happiness
3. Learn from the past
A good thing about regret is that it helps us remember our mistakes. When we think about how this moment happened, what it felt like, and how it might affect us if it were to happen again it reduces our chances of repeating this action. We can learn how to act differently in similar situations and prevent the feeling of regret we had in the past.
4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
CBT exercises allows you to begin teaching yourself how to change your habits and patterns of thinking. You will begin to be able to change your feelings of regret, anxiety, and anger and focus on healing these negative thoughts you may have. These exercises will begin reducing harmful feelings and replacing them with positive thoughts instead of solely relying on telling yourself to stop thinking about the past.
5. Write down your regrets
List regrets that consume your everyday thoughts and write down any questions you still may have surrounding these regrets. You might wonder why you did or did not do something in this moment, begin changing the why to ‘what’s next’ and this will begin to allow you to move on from these moments in your life.
6. Write yourself a letter
This exercise helps you to forgive yourself about the mistakes you have made. Shonda Rhimes, reminded us that such letters can make powerful talked at TED Vancouver as she shouted ‘no regrets’ with great passion to the audience. So write this letter to your younger or past self and write the letter as if you were talking to a close friend. This helps you to be compassionate and understanding to your past self. Keep telling your past self that it is okay to make mistakes because we are all human, and we have the opportunity to make positive changes and can continue to grow into the best version of ourselves.