5 Simply and Effective Ways to Deal with Past Regrets – Science based techniques to overcome and cope

Regret is a feeling everyone has experienced in their life. It’s horrible helplessness that can eat away at your present.

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado

Learn the science-based ways to overcome feelings of regret and prosper today.

What is Regret

Regret is an emotional response to desiring to change the outcome of a past event. It is something universally felt, as it can be applied to any decision you were unsure about.

While regretting not getting the pizza last night might not be detrimental to your life, other stronger regrets that linger can worsen your present experience.

Eventually, regret that lingers for too long can cause a variety of symptoms, from anxiety, depression, chronic stress, and insomnia, to physical symptoms like headache, physical pain, and digestive issues.

How to Overcome Regret

The techniques in this article are ones used in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of psychological treatment that is effective in treating a variety of problems such as anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental illnesses.

CBT involves changes in unhelpful ways of thinking, unlearning unhelpful behaviors, relearning more beneficial ones, and coping with psychological distress.

This list breaks down simple techniques you can practice to try and overcome lasting regret in your life but can be applied to other negative feelings that are detrimental to wellbeing.

5 Simple and Effective Ways to Overcome Regret

Learn these different ways and techniques to cope, understand, and manage feelings of regret.

Accept Your Feelings Towards the Situation

Acknowledging that you have certain feelings towards a situation is a very important step in overcoming regret. Ignoring negativity will not make it go away, but being hard on your feelings won’t fix it either.

Acknowledge your sentiments towards the situation, without judgment. From this place of acceptance and acknowledgment, we can start to think about what we can do to deal with the emotions and how we cope with the situation.

Remember Hindsight is 20-20

Feelings of regret occur when you either wish a situation had gone differently, or are upset about a choice you made. Remember, you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.

Obsessing over the past won’t change it. Instead, try to learn from past mistakes, instead of lingering on the negative outcome.

Focusing on and obsessing on a mistake will only amplify the negative feelings. Take time to think about what you have gained from the experience and how that can help you in the future. 

Focus on the Present

Think about goals and projects you can accomplish to set your sight toward the future. A positive outcome with these goals will also help you feel better, as you will start to focus on the current successful outcome.

In the present, ask yourself if there’s anything within your control to fix a past mistake.

If there is, start to take action towards that. If there is not, then focus on getting brand new goals and what your journey will look like.

Think about where you can go from here. The past is set in stone and cannot be changed. 

While this is hard to accept at times, especially with regret, focusing on the present and the future may help.

Practice Self Kindness

A bad choice or a mistake in the past does not make you unworthy of love, happiness, and respect.

Take time to be kind to yourself. While in states of regret, self love can be hard, give yourself permission to forgive yourself.

Practice self respect, acknowledging you are human and will make mistakes. Focus on something you can do in the present to feel better. Remember, regret may help you deal with a similar situation in the future.

Give yourself kindness and hope as you navigate your current emotions.

Give Yourself Time

Time is truly a necessary ingredient in overcoming the past. A major situation may leave a lasting impression on you, that is normal.

Time is needed to heal and adapt, to acknowledge, accept, and eventually cope.

While constant rumination and thinking about the past is detrimental, time away from the situation is beneficial. 

Give yourself permission to heal, even though the way to acceptance may not be linear, you will get there eventually.

The Takeaway

Dealing with past regret is not easy. It can be lingering negativity can that leads to mental illness such as depression or anxiety if not dealt with.

It can lead to insomnia, and headaches, and may affect your present and future.

With techniques learned in cognitive behavioral therapy, the road to coping may not look so long and treacherous.

Practice simple and effective changes in behavior and thought patterns to learn how to deal with regret and overcome it.

Remember, health starts from within, and mental health is just as vital as physical health.

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