Do you have things you regret deeply about your life? When you think about your past, do you have a large expression of regret?
It is common to regret deeply the things you wish you had done differently, opportunities you didn’t take, and mistakes you feel you made. I want to challenge those of you who regret deeply and beat yourself up over things you did in the past.
Recently, I was talking to one of my favorite patients who gave me permission to write about the things we discussed in her session. She is going through the process of a divorce.
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She told me that she was struggling with a lot of thoughts about the ways she could’ve done things differently, signs she ignored or didn’t see, and was at times, questioning the decision to divorce. I could see such pain in her face and her body as she was telling me that she was wondering how things might have been if she had made different choices throughout her marriage.
I asked her the question I ask any of my patients who are feeling regret deeply. Why didn’t you pay attention to the signs? I don’t ask this question in a way to shame anybody. That is never my intention as a therapist or as a person in general.
Hope in Life
The reason I ask that question is for them to see that there is room to let go of some of their regret, anger at themselves and others, and to hopefully stop beating themselves up for choices they made when they arrive at an answer. Typically, the answer is that they believed that things would get better or that things would turn out in a healthier way.
That can be summed up with one phrase; hope in life. That was something my patient has had a lot of throughout her life. Hope in life is the reason that she married her husband and stayed in the marriage for several years, even when things were really difficult. She had hope in life and all that she was creating.
Hope in life and hope in people is typically what fuels us to stay in relationships, jobs, and many aspects of our lives. We want to believe that things will get better or that a situation will improve.
I am a really hopeful person and that resulted in my being hurt often, but I will never regret deeply the times when I remained where I was until I truly saw that nothing would change for the better.
Hope in Others
My father was an alcoholic for the majority of my life. I had such hope for him to get sober and stay sober. That hope led me through a lot of pain as he continued to hurt me when I continued to give him more opportunities to be a good father.
Two months before he died, he was on hospice and was sober. I had not had a relationship with him for several years due to the need to protect myself emotionally.
Even through all of the hurt and pain he caused, I still had hope for him to be a good father before he died. He never got that opportunity as he died of cirrhosis.
Still to this day, when I think about all of the many times that my hope in life led me to try to have a relationship with him again and again, I only have compassion for myself. I don’t have anger, nor do I regret deeply all of my “failed” attempts at having a healthy relationship with him.
Hope Guiding Decisions
When we regret deeply, we are forgetting the reason we made the decisions that we made. Our hope in life and people is what led us to continue trying, even when it got hard or our efforts were fruitless.
I will always be proud of myself for having had hope that my dad would get sober and to be able to have a healthy relationship with me. If I had lost hope, then I wouldn’t have taken his phone call a few months before he died.
He would not have been able to tell me that he was on hospice. I had hope that his liver would recover and he could live for a few years. I had hope that he was ready to be a good father to me. My hope died with him, but I can honestly say that I do not regret deeply my willingness to give him one more chance.
As I talked to my patient and she realized that the reason she stayed in an unhealthy marriage was that she had hope in life. She had hope that her husband would recognize his unhealthy behaviors and their unhealthy behaviors together. She had hope that they could heal together.
When she began seeing her reason for staying in the marriage was because she had hope, her entire body softened. She was able to have compassion and love for herself. It allowed her to let go of a little bit of the shame and the regrets she was putting on herself.
Regrets Meaning in Hindu
Hindus views regret in what I consider a very beautiful way. Regrets meaning in Hindi is dukh, afsos, pachhatava. I have a beautiful friend, named Sangeeta, who helped me understand the regrets meaning and interpretation in Hindi.
Sangeeta explained that Hindus believe that we have this current lifetime to make up for the mistakes we made before we die and go on to live another life. If we are not able to repair those mistakes, then we face them in our next life.
I love that concept and it is somewhat similar to Christianity in that Christians repent for their mistakes in order to go to heaven when they die. That’s why Christians often say that people will have to answer to God for the things they have done in their lives.
No matter what religion you are or if you are not religious at all, we have all experienced regret deeply regarding something in our lives that we have done. What differs from person to person is the expression of regret.
Often, the expression of regret comes in the form of promises to ourselves. Think about the promises you have made to yourself when you found yourself in a place of deep regret. Use the examples below to give yourself some ideas.
Examples of Giving Up on Hope Statements
- I will never get married again.
- I will never let myself get hurt again.
- I will never ignore the signs again.
- I will never trust anybody again.
Those are all an expression of regret and the important thing that is missing is what I mentioned earlier. An expression of regret leaves no room for love towards yourself for having had hope in life.
Let’s look at the first expression of regret example I gave of “I will never get married again.” I have heard people say that many times and I have seen some of them hold true to it.
When somebody says that, they are subconsciously, and maybe even consciously, saying that they have no hope in life or in themselves to trust that they have learned how to better handle difficult things. There is nothing that you have ever experienced in life that you did not learn something from, I promise. NOTHING!
Compassion for Yourself
Everything we go through, teaches us something whether we are aware of it or not. If you struggle with loving yourself while healing or beat yourself up for repeating “mistakes,” please read my post Emotional Healing Journey (Loving Yourself and Healing Time).
So, if you say you will never get married again after a difficult marriage and divorce, then you are telling yourself that you do not believe that you have learned anything positive. It may not always feel positive, but I promise you learned more about yourself and what you want in a marriage or whatever else you experienced.
Expression of Regret
Now, we need to look at what we can do to change our expression of regret that we often have. To do that, we need to create a Hope Sentence.
Take one of the promises you have made yourself that you are hopefully realizing was absent of hope. Think about what you truly want in life IF you could learn how to make it healthy.
I’ll use the “I will never get married again” example for this as well. If you were able to find a partner with whom you created a healthy and loving marriage, wouldn’t you want that? Would you seriously deny yourself that if you found it?
Speaking of hope like I have mentioned, I hope not. I would hope that you would have enough hope to not give up and allow yourself the opportunity to have grown to create a healthier marriage. Using your Giving Up on Hope Statement to create your Hope Sentence.
Here are a few examples of a Hope Sentence.
- I have hope that I can heal and learn how to find a healthy partner, whom I may choose to marry one day when I see that we can create the healthy marriage that I deserve.
- I will take time to heal from being hurt, learn to love myself, and allow the benefits of love to outweigh the risk of being hurt when I am ready.
- I have hope that I have learned to see, acknowledge, and address the signs I see in ways that protect myself and maintain the healthy boundaries I have created to practice self-love.
- I will learn to trust myself and be cautiously optimistic with my trust in others, while knowing that I can heal and grow no matter what I face.
It’s important that you write down your Hope Sentence. If you don’t, you will probably forget it. Back to the word hope again, your hope will probably be lost. You will probably revert back to your Giving Up On Hope Statement of deep regret such as “I will never get married again.”
I recommend you read my post What You Focus on Grows (Affirmations for Abundance). It can teach you how to use your Hope Sentence to create the life and relationships you want to have. It will help you keep hope at the forefront of your mind.
So, if you are recognizing the ways that you have regret deeply over things in your past, I truly hope that you are willing to see that the reasons you went through those things are because you have a beautiful soul who had hope. You should never regret having hope.
I’ve yet to meet anyone whose life went the exact perfect way that he or she wanted. That person does not exist and never will. However, there are two kinds of people who can exist.
The first is the person who beats themselves up for having had hope and loses hope in life. The second kind of person is the person who hangs on to hope and chooses to create a better life with that hope.
You get to decide which kind of person you want to be. I choose to always have hope because I know that I am always healing and working hard on myself to continue creating a wonderful life. If I didn’t have hope, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this for you to read.
Instead, I would probably still be in a career that I hated and either single or in an unhealthy relationship. I don’t want that for you or anybody else. Choose to have hope.
This site is only intended for people who are truly willing to look at themselves with an open mind and have the ability to truly be vulnerable with themselves and others. Please understand that this site is in NO WAY THERAPEUTIC ADVICE. However, this site can be very beneficial in learning the causes of your Not Good Enough Stuff. This site is not intended to provide or replace medical or psychiatric treatment. Mary Beth HIGHLY RECOMMENDS finding a licensed therapist to help you process the information from this site and all that you learn about yourself. Visit Psychology Today to find a licensed therapist in your area.