Dealing with Regret


dsc00627Have you ever made a mistake that has taken a toll on your life? Is there one thing you wish that you never should have done? If you could turn the hands of time, what would you do right?

Everyone has one thing (an action, words spoken, gesture(s), etc) that he/she wishes never happened. Often we beat ourselves up especially where we hurt loved ones or innocent people. I will share an experience and suggest 4 things you can do to get over regret as we end this year.

  • My Experience:

There are many things I wish that never happened in my life (like hurting other people, taking what was not mine, provoking people, not doing well in exam because I didn’t prepare well, and worrying my parents when I was a kid).  I used to brood over them and I would sometimes go back to apologize but the more I held onto the feeling of regret, the longer I kept myself from being free.

One life experience is I allowed activities in quadrant 4 of time management (activities which are not important and not urgent like hours watching TV, long hours on phone talking about nothing important, playing games on pc and on phone, etc) to consume the time I could have used to study for a professional exam. Before I realised, time had passed and I had to start studying what I could have done two years earlier. Initially I beat myself up for months for wasting time because almost everyone around me was done with what I was about to start. My delay in writing the papers wasn’t as a result of funds but of misplaced priorities. It hurt me each day and it affected my ability to focus and study for the papers.

  • What to do:

Maybe you have (few) regrets in life, especially in this year. Regardless of how small or big the impact of your action(s) were to you or the other person, I would like to suggest four (4) things you can do to break free or get over regrets.

  • Pray about it

As Christians, the Bible encourages us to cast all our cares on the Lord because he cares for us. God pays attention to every detail of your life and He wants to have chit-chat with you about whatever you go through. Therefore

  • Pray for renewed mind and strength to move forward
  • Ask for strength to get over the feeling of regret
  • Pray for the other person(s) that were affected
  • Ask for forgiveness where the need be
  • Tell him about your action(s)
  • Let go of The Past

An enemy of your progress (moving forward) in life is your past. The temptation to repair what had been done in your yesterdays should be looked out for as it would lead to waste of time, energy, resources, etc. The Past is past and nothing can be done about it. Be mindful of the urgency to repair damages you have caused as the time/energy/resources that could have been used for something productive today might be wasted chasing after the wind. Therefore, after you have prayed about it, be ready to forgive yourself and let go the past. Accept that you can undo what was done in the past. In my case, I couldn’t reverse the years back to 2012 in order to write those papers so all I had to do was to let go of the past. I refused to let it bother me as I took steps in the present toward the desired future.

  • Live in the Present

The psalmist says that “This day belongs to the Lord! Let’s celebrate and be glad today” (Psalm 118:24, CEV). Every day is a gift from God and you’ve got to rejoice and be glad throughout the day.

Don’t start your day brooding over what couldn’t go well the previous day or week or month.

Instead, start taking steps today in order to have a better tomorrow. Today is the day you have to shake off the pains and regrets of yesterday. In my case, I took bold steps, after letting go the past, to register for the course, buy the books, and started studying. Each time I opened the books, a thought (from the enemy) would say that “if you hadn’t wasted time, you could have finished these papers now. Consider what you could have done today if you hadn’t wasted time”. There was temptation to repair yesterday’s damage instead of preparing for tomorrows successes but my response was simple; I would say “The present is what I have to study to pass these papers. I can’t go back to past to correct this mistake in 2012 but I can use today to decorate the future I want to see”.

If you hurt someone in the past, worrying today wouldn’t make you any better and it won’t change your action(s) either. Therefore take steps today to correct that mistake by doing what is right. Be truthful to the person and reassure him/her about changes you have made in order not to repeat your action(s) and then keep to your words. With time, the feeling of hurt the person used to have would disappear and the new you would be seen.

  • Focus on the Future

Focusing on the future relieves you from the burden of pondering on your past mistakes. That is when you keep focusing on how you want your future relationships with people (you did wrong in past) to flourish, you get rid of the pains and guilt of yesterdays. Again, set future goal(s) and focus on how to achieve them. This would help get over regrets that could wear you down in the present. In my case, I set a goal of finishing the papers within certain time frame and focused on finishing the task. It helped and saved me from having self-pity which in effect made me successful in achieving the task.

It is said that “whatever you focus on magnifies”. Therefore if you live in the present focusing on your past mistake(s), its/their effect(s) on your life would seem bigger. Be encouraged to focus on what lies ahead of you because your Best days are still in front of you.

  • Conclusion:

When you pray to God for forgiveness, He forgives you and doesn’t hold your sins/mistakes against you. He starts news life with you and guides you on how to spend eternity with Him. That is God focuses on what He can do today in order to for you to enjoy the future with Him. God doesn’t hold on to the Past.

You were created in His image and likeness so you have the ability to drop/throwaway/let go anything that is holding you back from enjoying God’s goodness in your present life. I believe that when you pray about what was done in the past, chose to let go of the past, decide live in the present, and focus on God’s plans and purposes for your future, you will get over regret. Start Your Day Right

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