Releasing Regret

How many times do you catch yourself in the act of looking over your shoulder, thinking, “What if…?” How often do you replay agonizing scenes from the past in your mind, enlarging upon the times when you have demonstrated weaknesses, or even failure? Why are we so ready to review all the hurts that have been inflicted upon us by others, re-opening wounds from years long past? When you engage in these rehearsals of regret, do you notice how it affects your mind and body?

Regret can have a powerful negative impact, causing us to feel as if we are shutting down, emotionally and physically. My own thoughts of regret sometimes move in like a gray fog, clouding my mind with painful images, constricting my heart, often paralyzing me with the weight of hopelessness.

If we examine regret more closely, we find it is only a thought, an activity of the mind, and thoughts can be changed. Regret only has the power that we give it to control us. Regret connects us to the wasteland of dead energy in our past. There is no life in thoughts of regret. In fact, one definition of regret describes it as “sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one’s control or power to repair.” Why waste energy on something that can never be changed?

The only real value of regret is to keep us from repeating the same mistakes over and over again. But instead of dwelling on thoughts of previous anguish, we can use regret to “bridge” us to hope, directing our thoughts to the present and the future, where possibilities are infinite.

Here’s how this works: Learn to notice when you are feeling regret over some past experience. When you are feeling lousy, it’s often the result of regret. Instead of chastising yourself or replaying the scene in vivid detail, imagine all the color and emotion of that scene fading into gray or neutral tones, and then dissolving into nothingness. In this way, you are releasing the connection to dead energy.

As the gray images fade, imagine a scene where you feel strong and positive, perhaps creating a scenario that directly contradicts the scene that caused you anguish.

For instance, perhaps you remember a time when you were deeply hurt by someone close to you. (Unfortunately, memories like these are usually easy to access.) Once the memory is clear, let it fade to gray. Now use your wonderful mind to “bridge” to another scene, one in the future, where you are treated well by someone, where you accomplish a goal, or where you treat someone else with kindness. These things ARE possible, and more likely to happen if we rehearse them. Make these scenes vivid and colorful in your mind. By connecting to the energy of infinite possibility, to energy that is alive and vibrant, we prepare our selves for success. Rehearsing regret, on the other hand, will only link us to dead energy, beyond our control.

Instead of reliving the past, try the activity of releasing regret, and notice how your body responds. You will feel more empowered, more hopeful, and infinitely more capable to deal with life and its challenges.

© 2001 Marybeth Bethel