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How to Release Regret

By Debbie Mandel

It feels good to be bad once in awhile because we liberate ourselves from restrictions. However, afterwards some of us experience a little guilt, but that soon passes because the fun is worth it! Regrets fall into a different category. We have made a mistake or ďWe should have...Ē Perhaps, we said hasty words in anger or speculated on a financial decision and lost. We fall into a negative loop beating ourselves up emotionally by chewing on our actions, words and silence, like tasteless gum over and over again. This rumination saps our vitality and impedes moving forward.

Since everyone experiences some sort of regret when reflecting on the past, it only becomes a problem if: you tend to exaggerate what you did or didnít do or get addicted to feeling sorry for yourself. If either of those traits applies to you, then regret is causing you to get stuck in a moment. In the context of a life what is a moment?

Look closely at the anatomy of your heart, both hard and soft, tensing and relaxing, circulating and releasing, nutrients and waste products. The heart is Chinese medicineís metaphor for governing the self. The heart is the anatomical source of flow and the goal in life is to flow in whatever you are doing, instead of fighting the current. When you are in a state of flow, you accept what you are doing this moment. This frees your mind and your spirit from past concerns. You can experience life as it comes instead of fearing it or missing out because of past mistakes. This is the heart of the matter.

Regrets dilute your present. Learn from your conflicts the way a boxer or martial artist does. Conflicts on the outside prepare you for conflicts on the inside. There are no regrets in boxing, or karate, only learning how to improve technique and do better. Regret is like a blind spot in your life. When you are driving, you know there is a blind spot in your mirror, so you compensate for it. Similarly, when you navigate life, regret will be lurking there. Take the appropriate measures to maneuver around it:
  • Donít take failure too seriously. There is a danger of falling into great negativity and causing yourself too much worry. As a result, you will continue to actualize failures because they have become a part of you.
  • When you feel pain in your body, the more you think about it, the more it hurts. Remove your focus from the pain and it hurts far less or not at all.
  • Donít dwell on your faults. Pass them by like paintings in a museum that you donít particularly like. Instead focus on the paintings that you do like.
  • Be understanding of others and likewise yourself. Forgive readily, especially yourself.
Let regret lead you to a more logical thought process and more accurate action. Cultivate kindness towards others who triumph when you fail and towards those who lose when you win. By being kind to others you will get habituated to kindness. It will become a part of you and make you feel like a better person. Ultimately, you will be kind to yourself, see your worth and not beat yourself up over a past mistake!
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com