Got regret? Welcome to my world. I wish I knew a lot less about this topic. However, as awful as it feels to face regret, it is the most powerful, beautiful work we do.
Regret is that painful feeling linked with an idea that we could have done something differently—that awful feeling that it’s too late to repair the mistakes we feel we’ve made.
Regret is the outcome of the disease I call, “I’m not doing me very well.”
We all suffer from regret, because acting from our own integrity is not so easy.
In fact, all regretful choices stem from this one idea: “To be me, or not to be me.”
And here’s how I know about that: I call the first 35 years of my life “The Great Repression.” When we live repressed, we don’t realize we are repressed—until we start feeling regrets. I use the word regrets because I think there are different pains associated with regret.
The pain of regret is created from decisions and actions we take before consulting ourselves. Psychologists call this “self-repression” or “self-denial.” The spiritual world calls it “being unconscious.”
Maybe we feel envious of someone’s lifestyle and we link it back to choices we would like to do over. Why would I feel this way if I’m living my purpose to its fullest?
Or maybe we regret a comment we made when we were feeling uncomfortable. Why would I snap at a friend for no reason?
When we live in a repressed state, we have muted the voice of the knowing self, and consequently made choices for ourselves (and sometimes others) that caused the pain we later experience as regret.
Most people begin their regret work by deciding there is something wrong with some other person or a situation in their life:
I should never have taken that job. We quit the job and work somewhere else that we often regret, too.
Why did I marry her? What was I thinking?? She’s awful. We then file divorce papers and flee, only to create the exact same problem with someone else.
Or maybe we witness regret and become self-destructive:
Why did I say that? Then we replay the moment over and over in our heads, and beat ourselves up all the while. We may practice further self-destructive behavior.
When we make a choice from a painful regret and choose a quick fix while in pain (and we may need to because we feel unsafe), we deny ourselves the healing steps. We will often create the same problems again and again because we remain in the same mind-body state.
Healing regret does not require making choices, it requires healing the person making the choices. We heal from regretful choices to discover that the person making those choices was not who we really were.
The work we do to heal regret is designed to return to our beautiful, natural self. It’s a beautiful process that provides transformational healing.
We can always heal regret.
We are not designed to simply look at our past and suffer forever. We are designed to witness, understand, and release our past transgressions—learning from our missteps and healing our worlds because of them.
The purpose of looking at the pain of regret is to return to your true nature by awakening your compassion for yourself when you perceive you’ve made a mistake or hurt someone else.
Regret work is about learning to be divinely gentle with ourselves when we realize that we’ve not always been so with ourselves and others. It’s refusing to propagate self-hate while you learn about yourself.
The most important thing to understand about regret is that the mind-body pain is deeper than any choice.
Regret is ultimately not about any choice we make.
Regret is about: How did I become unconscious? When did I quit listening to me? How do I trust myself to make decisions for myself?
Trouble starts for all of us when we mute the knowing self to please others in our lives. We think this is necessary at times. For many of us it started very early.
Say what he wants to hear.
Play along or you’ll be fired.
We all buy into this behavior—go along to get along—because we really don’t see a choice. When you’re a child and your very survival depends on the goodwill of people bigger than you, you feel there is no choice.
We awaken to discover we’ve surrendered our power to our culture and find we have no idea how to heal that. Perhaps like me, you awaken to discover you are now doing to your friends and loved ones the very things that you hated being done to you as a child.
Regret work is about taking responsibility for your life and moving forward by understanding your past and releasing the pain.
The good news is that we can only experience regret when we are awakening (which means healing has already begun.) The best news is that the mind-body pain of regret is designed to teach us and heal us.
To truly experience regret and complete its process is to experience self-forgiveness and ascension. For me, it is the most benevolent process I’ve ever experienced. And yes, I needed help in the beginning.
The process of forgiveness begins with looking at regrettable moments that cause us pain. The goal in these moments is about learning how to be kind to ourselves and others, especially when it’s deeply painful and we feel like we’ve screwed everything up.
You may need help, too—especially if you think you’ve done something you perceive as irreparable—caused a death or an accident. We want to go back, undo, and redo.
The way we repair the irreparable in this universe is not an action, but a mind-body releasing of grief and suffering. The world is new again, we feel more like ourselves again, and we move into greater understanding of the universe. From this new mind-body state we will know if and how to make amends, and we will not be afraid.
I’ve walked through thousands of personal regrets in order to assure you that at the end of the process you will discover grace—a benevolent return to self, free of guilt and suffering. But don’t just take my word for it. People who’ve suffered unspeakable tragedies, as well as people who’ve committed horrible crimes, will can tell you the same thing: we can all forgive and be forgiven, no matter what we’ve done or had done to us.
Tune in next week for the post about how to live in the state of Grace (living without regret).