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Regret and Self-Forgiveness: How to Get Over Your Past Mistakes



Last Updated: Feb 5, 2016
When you make a bad decision, you can waste valuable time beating yourself up. Find out how to get over mistakes quickly so you can move on and regain your momentum.

A while back I invested in a home study course that looked promising. Once I had “consumed” the material by writing in the workbook, I couldn’t return it. Of course, if I was considering a return, I should have gone through the DVDs before doing that, to see if they were as valuable as I expected.

But that’s not what I did. I took notes in the workbook as I went through the DVDs. Ever the optimist…and full of hope for useful information as I dug deeper into the content.

I ended up being disappointed and wishing I hadn’t made the purchase. But now I was “stuck” with the material.

Over the next several weeks, I rehashed my decision and my actions several times. I was full of regret and self-criticism, asking myself questions like: Why did I write in that workbook? Why didn’t I just go through the DVDs first?

Have you ever had regret about something you’ve done? Maybe you bought something, too, that you couldn’t return. Or you lashed out at someone you cared about. Or you didn’t stay in touch with a family member or friend you promised to. Or you lied to someone who trusted you. The list could be long.

Because we’re not perfect, we make decisions and take actions that don’t work out. If only we could take them back…

At times like this, remind yourself of a very important truth:

You cannot change the past!

It really is true that you rob yourself of your present moments if you dwell on past events.

The solution is self-forgiveness. The act of admitting you’re human and every choice you make will not work out makes it possible to let go of past mistakes.

And it’s really important that you do this. It’s not just that these regrets consume precious moments that can never be recovered. You also have to consider the toll such musings take on your mental and emotional health. Your elf-esteem and self-confidence can plummet when you’re focused on your mistakes and overlook all the things you do well.

So commit to taking a few minutes to identify the one or two biggest regrets you have that are still haunting you. Then ask yourself what you need to do to finally let go of them. Maybe you’ll want to make amends to someone else. Or maybe you just need to remind yourself that you’re allowed to be imperfect. You can learn from every experience because you can use those lessons going forward.

You’ll know if you’ve successfully let go because your mind will be free to think more positive, creative thoughts and your shoulders will feel lighter from not carrying that burden of regret any longer.

An entrepreneur since 1982, Meredith Bell is a skilled coach and expert on behavior change. Her software company publishes assessment and development tools for the people side of your business. For more information and the free guide for entrepreneurs, “Ignite Your Business,” visit: http://www.ProStarCoach.com/smallbiz  

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