“I want to live my life so that my night doesn’t end with regrets.”
—D. H. Lawrence
Remorse is a universal feeling that we all feel. Feelings of remorse can be overwhelming, and if we do, it can take a heavy toll on our lives. There are people who do well in dealing with their regrets, and there are some of us who do not know much about it.
For a long time, my feelings of guilt dominated my life, especially during difficult and unhappy times. I lay in bed thinking about all the things I hadn’t done, the mistakes I had made, and the opportunities I had filled up.
I imitated scenes in my head, which often began with questions such as, “What if? What if I said this? What would have happened if I had done this? ”These remorse-ridden games can last for hours, and then, the opportunity to sleep well at night was lost. I woke up tired, weak and unhappy. This was not a good way to start the day.
The more tired I was, the less happy I was with my health. I finally reached a point in my life where I realized that living my life full of remorse was causing me great unhappiness. I did not want to lead a miserable life, so I decided to change my lifestyle.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Finding a way to deal with the negative effects of regret in my life would not be achieved in a day, a week, or a month. I have decided that I will take one step at a time instead of rushing to find ways in which I can achieve some change in the hope that my regrets will disappear magically.
I knew that my regrets would not go away. I needed to get better at dealing with the negative influences they had on my life.
Psychology of regrets
The first step I decided to take was to teach myself feelings of remorse. What I have learned from reading various articles and books has enabled me to better understand and manage my thoughts and feelings about my regrets in life.
Two American psychologists, Neale J. Roese and Mike Morrison, conducted a National Survey with remorse. The results of the study showed that the six major regrets we have in life are based on education, employment, romance, parenting, self-improvement and recreation.
“Remorse is an important part of one’s experience – something everyone has as long as they have a purpose in life. Instead of avoiding it, it is better to try to take some understanding of regret. “
—Neal J. Roese Professor of Psychology
This quote from Neale J Roese was not my “aha moment” for me. Up to this point, I realized that I was living my life trying to avoid regrets. Looking back now, I think I was under a lot of pressure to read a lot of self-improvement books, or maybe I just misinterpreted what I was reading with regret.
Somehow I created a belief when I thought that without regrets I would have a happy life. I found it wrong, and when I read what Neale J Roese said about regrets, I realized that regrets were, in fact, an important part of my life experience. What I needed to sort out was how I would deal with those thoughts and feelings of regret that had a negative impact on my life.
Opportunity Begets Repentance
The report in the national survey talked about the Principles of Opportunity and how our actions or failure to take action on a regular basis in our lives can create deep feelings of remorse.
Another interesting fact about regret is that if the opportunity is denied or does not reveal itself to you it is possible to balance these feelings and move on. However, when you fail to take action when the opportunity arises for you at that moment, you are more likely to have deep feelings of remorse. It is this regret that may keep you awake at night.
Mark Twain’s quote below sums up the fact that your failure to take action can stay with you forever.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed in things you did not do than in what you did.”
With my commitment to take action, I am now accepting the opportunities. I am not focusing on the outcome of the opportunity. I focus on how I choose to respond to that opportunity. By doing this I began to realize that I would spend less time thinking at night about all the opportunities I had failed to take advantage of.
Regrets, Choices and Good Night Sleep
Everything is not lost but when it comes to “lost opportunities” in our lives as we all have the power to choose from ourselves. The lost opportunity and the remorse it gives us is an opportunity to choose to take corrective action.
Remorse actually serves a purpose in our lives as it can remind us of what we need to do differently to move forward in our lives. We can choose to take action and create positive emotions in our actions. As we do this our feelings of remorse diminish, and again, we are less likely to be kept awake and playful regrets in our head. We may have enjoyed a good night’s sleep because we chose to do something. That is what makes us happy !!
I realized that in order to get a good night’s sleep, when I chose to be bold enough to go out and take action, I felt better about myself.
Going to bed happy about myself was a big step for me to control the feelings of remorse that kept me awake at night.
Remorse and Action
Taking action was one of the most important things I can do right now that can reduce the negative impact my regrets have had on my life. If I do this one thing consistently, over and over again, I will be assured that I can sleep well at night forever. If I continue to take action every time I get a chance and do not worry about the outcome, I will be less likely to feel guilty.
Here are three tips I have used in my life to help me manage my regrets so that I can sleep well at night
- Move for Future Opportunities
Remorse is a part of life, and it is the only way they can control our lives if we let them. The more we think about it, the more deeply we will regret it. Focusing on our regrets hinders us from working, and ultimately makes us fearful and unhappy about our health.
See your remorse, accept it and leave. Show your concern for future opportunities – don’t dwell on the past.
- Accept That You Can’t Change What Has Been Done
There is a wonderful book I read about regrets by Arthur Freeman called “Willa, Cana, Shoulda: Overcoming Regrets, Mistakes, and Missing Opportunities.”
In this book, Arthur Freeman talks about how remorse will end as soon as we realize that the situation has been created and eliminated. There is no going back, and we can’t change what happened. The secret to coping with regrets begins with deciding what to do next. It is our adherence to the past that causes these feelings of remorse, and when we let go of the past, we are more in control of our future.
When you are kept awake at night with your remorse, you are living your life in the past, and you cannot control the past. The more you look to the future, the more control you have over your life.
When you lie down in bed at night, the first thing you do is think about the one future opportunity that makes you feel good. Don’t fall asleep if you can’t think of the future because, hopefully, that regret will put pressure on your thoughts.
If you have a real problem read Arthur Freeman’s book as it offers many tools and tips on how to unlock your past attachments.
- Make Your Regrets Work for You
Turn your regrets into lessons to learn. Put your regrets on the content, acknowledge it, and use it to motivate you to take action.
I have used this strategy extensively, and it works. I’ve always wanted to be a speaker-speaker and coach, but for many years, I didn’t do anything about it. I slept soundly thinking about my inability to take action, which meant I hadn’t done anything about it for years. Then my parents died suddenly, and my life was thrown into chaos and pain.
As I continued my medical treatment in my life, I realized that my regrets were not being used properly. In fact, they were preventing me from living the life I had hoped for, and I needed to change that. So I started writing without expecting just starting. I didn’t want to live with regret that I had never given you the opportunity to be a writer.
Here I am sitting today writing this article and thank you so much for taking the remorse and making it work for me.
I still have sleepless nights thinking of what I should have done, but my regrets today do not end my life. I have a better night’s sleep now than I had when my regrets controlled me and kept me awake night after night.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: