Accept, Embrace, Forgive (2)
We all regret some of the choices we made, the opportunities we missed or the things that didn’t go our way. But the important thing is to realise that holding on to such regrets can immobilise us.
Regret holds us back
The most useful perspective we can have about our regrets is to look at them as lessons and to trust that we always chose the best option available at that time.
When we start to doubt and question our decisions of the past, it’s a short step to second-guessing our present, and ultimately ourselves. By doing so, we may also end up labelling our present as a mistake. It is far more empowering to believe that where we are today is exactly where we need to be and all the past experiences were there to teach us some lessons. We need to develop the ability to let go of the past to move forward with confidence.
Here are some tips to help you move on.
1. Stop your regrets in the track. Catch yourself thinking of a particular regret, and get into the habit of always asking yourself, “What’s great about that situation?” This is a very empowering question, as it forces you to look at the positives and the lessons you learnt. There is always a lesson—even in pain and sadness. Look for the lesson and focus on it instead of what might have been.
2. Don’t whine. Stop telling people your sad-story. Instead tell people how great the situation was for you and all that you learnt from it, which will not let you repeat the mistake.
3. Forgive fully. We have to forgive ourselves fully and if there are other people involved, seek their forgiveness too. It is important to understand that we would never deliberately or unnecessarily choose a path that causes pain or suffering to anyone, including ourselves. What looks like a wrong decision now, was probably the best one back then in the light of all the factors involved.
How we make decisions
Being comfortable is a level of being alive, which stems from our basic survival instinct. We tend to choose the painless or easy option, even in cases when it would be the least uncomfortable option.
To illustrate this, imagine you are in a room, out of a James Bond or Mission Impossible movie. The walls are slowly closing in and you have one minute before you are squashed salami. You have to think fast and smart and make a choice. On the ground are three manholes. One is a smelly sewerage, which is shallow. The second is with white sharks and crocodiles and the third one has venomous snakes and scorpions. Time is running out and you have to choose, as not doing anything is not an option.
We always choose the best option
Our basic survival instinct always chooses life. In the above case, you do a quick mental analysis of your options and realise that the only way that would keep you alive is the smelly sewerage. So, you opt for it and are alive wading in smelly waters. Not a nice feeling, but you are alive.
As time goes by, you are grateful for being alive and then you forget the other alternatives that you had. You focus only on what is the present. In all probability, people around you may say, “Look at him/her swimming in that sewer.” But no one would know that this was the best option available for you to survive.
Thus, it is clear that we always choose the best option available us at any given time. We have to have faith in ourselves, that even the worse situations now, were the right choices at a particular time. And the fact that we acknowledge this is all that matters.
Accepting our choices is the first step in moving on. And regrets, in most instances, are an absolute waste of energy that take keep us from appreciating what we have.
Even a moment spent in negative emotions about the past is a waste. So take a deep breath, let it go and pat yourself on your back for coming this far.
By Malti Bhojwani
Having said all that, one of my all time favourite quotes is "As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do." by Zachary Scott
As featured in Complete Wellbeing
Why regret may be good
A study by Colleen Saffrey at the University of Victoria and colleagues at the University of Illinois provides evidence that people actually have a high regard for regret.
In one study, subjects rated regret favourably in a survey, indicating that experiencing this emotion helped them make sense of life events and come up with a remedy for what went wrong.
In a second study, the researchers asked subjects to reflect on 11 negative emotions—such as fear, anger, anxiety, and shame—in addition to regret. The subjects rated how much they agreed with statements about the value of these emotions, which they thought helped them to act in the future or improved their relationships with others. Among all, regret was the most valued negative emotions studied.
Regret also has a social context. We learn not only from our own mistakes, but also from other people’s mistakes. We also learn about preferable outcomes by seeing our peers, colleagues, or neighbours make favourable or unfavourable choices.
The power of regret may explain why few of us are good at objectively appraising risks and benefits. Rather than looking forward to figure out what is in our best interests, we typically look backward. We reflect on what has and has not worked in the past—be it a life partner, career, financial investment, or even a medical treatment—we choose the option we are least likely to regret. Managing regret productively may thus be essential for our mental health. It helps improve the quality of life, and promotes a positive sense of well-being.
— Team CW
Kevin Lobo speaks to Life Coaches including Malti Bhojwani after the terror blasts in Mumbai.
Defuse the stress bomb
Getting inundated with information about the terror attacks could have affected you. We get experts to help you spot symptoms of having experienced terror, and how to rectify it
Even if you weren't physically affected by the terror attacks yesterday, just living in Mumbai, watching the gruesome images on TV or being scared for the wellbeing of your loved ones could have affected you psychologically. Stress can manifest itself both significantly and in a subtle manner. Life coaches Aprajita Singh and Malti Bhojwani share tips on how to first identify and then diffuse your stress.
Physical patterns Spot: While worrying about people you care is legitimate, don't visualize yourself in horrific situations."The first place you will feel fear is in your stomach. The line between what you are imagining and where you really are starts blurring. Some people may start pacing around and breathe rapidly. Others sit with a hunch, constricting their chest, which causes them to take shallow breaths," says Singh.
Treat: You need to sit up straight, expand your chest and breathe deeply. Once you sense you are getting hassled, take a step back and look at everything you are worried about intelligently. "Stand on a tile in your house and feel everything negative you are going through.
Then step on to another tile and think back to a time when you were very confident or felt like you achieved something remarkable. You need to see what you saw (the situation), hear what you heard (maybe applause) and feel what you felt. With these positive feelings, step back into tile one. Now assess your current situation and how you want to move forward," advises Singh.
Spot: Human beings are equipped to deal with physical changes, but we are quite unaware when it comes to matters of the mind. Most people will not know why they are feeling a sense of helplessness or anger towards nothing in particular after a terrorist attack. Some might feel inconsequential and small in this big universe. Bhojwani says, "If you notice yourself snapping at the wrong people or lashing out and looking to blame everyone, you need to check your mood. How are you affecting your loved ones."
Treat: Addressing this by jumping into an organisation which helps society is just a temporary solution. Recognising that you can't control things outside of yourself might be distressing, but it's true. "You could share your method of de-stressing with people around you. You will find some interesting tips from these conversations. There was this friend of mine who would change his clothes to feel better on a bad day. Some people shop others eat. Use different support mechanisms," says Singh.
Spot: Some kids are open and will tell you openly if something is bothering them. But there are many who won't. Watch their body language, they could be hyper active. Most kids get clingy and will hesitate to go out. Some will pretend that they are very busy and will sit at the computer the whole day or play games or read a book.
Treat: You need inform them about everything that happened. Don't let their fear dictate their imagination. Make them know that life has to go on. If they had ticket to a movie let them go for it. Don't let your fear stress your children out. "Most believe in the inherent goodness of humans, this is truer in kids. Remind them that this is just an aberration in humanity and most people still are good," says Singh.
Tragedy is a reminder that life is unpredictable and we may not be around as long as we plan to. So don't look at these events as a reason or excuse to slow down or procrastinate, in fact see it as a wake-up-call. Bhojwani says, "Try this technique. Imagine you are in your '80s and looking back at your life and narrating it to your grandkids, what do you want to be saying to them? In order to live that life, what does the next 3 years need to be about? Not planning or having some vision or desire is not the answer." First try and make small contributions to make you feel better. You could form a small group and talk about it or spread harmony in your own small way. Write about it online or talk about peace with people you meet. Then take the full plunge if you are convinced.
“Without sounding insensitive, this is a time for the rest of us who were spared directly from the tragedy to step up from being complacent and lazy and waiting for life to happen to us."
You can either have more Reasons, “bomb blasts in Mumbai”, “Monsoons”, “Viral Flu”, or you can have more Results in your life. What do you want more of?”
As Aristotle said "Anyone can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way - that is not within everyone's power and that is not easy."