When we reach our 30s and 40s, many of us begin to have a lot of regrets about the past. We see the glossy goals we didn’t achieve, we notice the things we once wanted to do but we didn’t, and we start feeling bad.
When regret sets in, it’s bad for you twofold: not only because it’s a nasty emotion to have, but also because very often it prevents you from living in the moment and doing something positive with your current life.
It seems that you’ve wasted so much time that there is little point in trying to do something with your life right now. Your mind just keeps dwelling on what could have been, but isn’t. And this is how disappointment about the past makes you sacrifice the present and the future as well.
So I think that you can see how it’s important to be able to overcome feelings of regret. It’s the only way you’re gonna be able to make the best out of life right now. With this in mind, I want to give you 3 powerful strategies to do so, based on my experience as a confidence coach.
1. Stop Downplaying the Positive in Your Past
When a person looks at their past and notices they didn’t do many of the things they wanted to do, it’s very common for them to automatically believe that their past was a complete waste of time: they didn’t achieve anything, didn’t do anything right and didn’t have any happy moments.
But this is always far from true. Their mind is simply over-generalizing and making everything that happened in the past seem negative or pointless, just because some desired things did not happen.
The fact of the matter is that even if you haven’t achieved some of your goals in the past, you still did lots of awesome things. And an important exercise to overcome regret is to remember and acknowledge these things.
Take a good look at your past beyond your failures, and search for the positive in it: the accomplishments, the wonderful moments, the learning experiences. You’ll recognize that your life up until now hasn’t been that bad after all, and it certainly hasn’t been pointless.
2. Realize It’s Not Too Late
Whatever you didn’t achieve in the past, you can achieve now. If you didn’t build a successful business or get married or get in shape in your 20s, you can do so in your 30s or 40s of 50s or even 60s. Really, there is nothing stopping you.
The only problem is that we’ve picked up from society some rigid standards regarding when certain things should be done in life. We think, “if you didn’t do X in your twenties, it’s not worth doing it anymore”.
Really? Who says so? That’s just a huge limiting belief. In fact, chances are that if you do something when you’re older, you’ll enjoy it even more, become your judgment has become more appreciative and mature with the passage of time.
And even if the passage of time does make some goals impossible to achieve after a certain age, you can still find variations of those goals to achieve. For example, if you’re a woman in your 50s and it’s too late for you to have a child of your own, you can still be around the children of other family members and support them as they grow up.
Most limitations regarding age are in your mind, not in reality. And that’s an empowering notion to grasp.
3. Practice Being Present
Once major reason why we let regret ruin the present moment for us is because we don’t know how to be present to the moment at hand. Our mind gets pulled from the present towards the past, so the present moment gets wasted.
A good method to overcome this is to develop your ability to be present, by consciously practicing this. Whenever you find yourself dwelling about the past, deliberately pull your focus back to the present moment.
Focus on what you’re doing in the moment, notice what’s going on around you, open your senses to the reality you’re currently in and become one with the present moment. In such a state, the past doesn’t matter anymore. Subjectively, it doesn’t even exist anymore. All there is, is the present moment, and you can live it fully.
Even if you’re not very used to living in the moment, you can learn this with practice. And the more present to the now you become, the more you’ll enjoy life and the more you can leverage the now instead of letting it be wasted.
Last but not least, It’s been said hundreds of times but it’s worth saying it again: the past is the past and you cannot change it. All you can do is learn from it and ensure that you make the best out of the present.
Draw wisdom from the past, but live in the present. You will go far.
About the Author of this post:
Eduard Ezeanu helps others to be more outgoing socially and be more talkative during conversations, in order to express themselves authentically and build great relationships. He also writes on his two blogs, People Skills Decoded and Art of Confidence.
Thank you so much Eduard for writing this insightful post.
With Immense Love & Gratitude,
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