If regrets and bad decisions have been playing on your mind, it may be that you need to take responsibility for your mistake and make amends in some way in order to help you move on. Perhaps you have said something you now regret, cheated on an ex partner or hurt somebody’s feelings. If you feel that someone else has been badly affected by your decisions, it’s time to bite the bullet and try to make amends, starting with a heartfelt apology.
Learn from your mistakes
While you can’t change the past, you can certainly learn from it. Instead of looking at past errors in judgement as disastrous mistakes, try viewing them as learning opportunities which will help you to make better decisions in the future. Reflect on what you have learned from your mistakes, such as the importance of making the most of opportunities, what your priorities are, and any weaknesses that you need to address (such as a fear of failure or lack of confidence in your decisions). Rather than dwelling on your regrets, use them to equip you for future success.
Reflect on your successes
Rather than focusing on your perceived ‘failures’, try spending some time reflecting on your achievements in life. According to research we find it more difficult to recall good memories than bad ones, which may be why we spend much more of our time regretting our mistakes than we do celebrating our successes. Next time regrets enter your head, try replacing them with the memory of an achievement or proud moment in your life. You could even prepare a list of these in advance to choose from, or put together a photo album to flick through of all your proudest moments.
Count your blessings
Just as we tend to focus more on our mistakes and regretful moments than we do on our happier times, we often tend to over-exaggerate these moments by fixating on all the negative side-effects of our mistakes – whether real or imagined. Rather than focusing on the negative ways in which situations have impacted on your life, try to focus on all the things in your life you are thankful for and remember that all of your experiences – both good and bad – are what made you into the person you are today, living the life you are currently leading.
Achieve a life-long goal
Whether you feel frustrated by the way your life has gone so far or disappointed in yourself over past mistakes, there is nothing to help you overcome these feelings like setting – and achieving – a goal that means something to you. Rather than regretting what has happened in the past, set about paving the way to a better future by working towards something life-changing – whether it is helping a good cause, improving your job prospects or strengthening your relationships with those you care about. Striving towards an important goal will not only restore your confidence in yourself and your satisfaction in life, it will also mean you are far too busy to dwell on any pointless regrets!
Remember that nobody’s perfect
We are often our own worst critics, which is why we find it hard to move on and forgive ourselves when things go wrong. Instead of beating yourself up over past mistakes and bad decisions, remember that nobody is perfect and everybody has faced failure or disappointment at some point in their lives – even the world’s most successful people. Next time you’re dwelling on regrets, try opening up to those you care about and you will no doubt find that you are not the only one who has felt the way you do now. When it comes to having regrets, we have all been there; it is part of being human.
Press the ‘off’ switch on your memories
We all have things in our lives that we wish had gone differently. However, while some of us choose to move on from our mistakes, others remain stuck in the past, mentally replaying their regrets over and over. If you fall into the latter category ask yourself the following question: how is devoting all this time to your regrets benefitting your life? You will probably find the answer is no. Going over your regrets will not change what has happened; it will only ruin your present happiness. Make amends and try to learn from your mistakes, then press the ‘off’ switch on those memories and devote your energy instead to moving forward.