3 Ways To Remedy Regrets. [What Would a Navy SEAL, Pollyanna, or a Spiritual Seeker Do?]
We usually have regrets around relationships, business decisions, occupational choices, accidents… we could even regret eating (drinking, inhaling) something we shouldn’t. Sometimes we regret what we did, didn’t or what someone else did. (In other words: who doesn’t mess up?!)
I was asked to write about this topic, so it goes with warm wishes to Canada.
How to deal with regrets? What would Pollyanna do? What would a Navy SEAL do? What would a student of a Course in Miracles do?
When you ponder and practice what would all these characters do – imagine they all met to talk about it – you may cook up your own stew of emergency responses, or even life’s philosophy.
1. What would a Navy Seal do?
“The warrior has no regrets. While he focuses on the future, he looks into the past, takes only what belongs in the present, and cuts everything else.” – Mark Divine, the trainer of thousands of Navy SEALs.
Regrets can be accompanied by doubt. Doubt is eliminated thru actions.
Ever regret you didn’t become a Navy SEAL? Perform a simple test. Try going on one hour of sleep for 5 days, while working 20 hours a day in physically and mentally challenging circumstances. This little test may disperse any doubts. You may realize you are really a 9-5 kind of guy… or that you should apply. (likely many new moms could apply too)
Let me ‘throw in’ some Caroline Myss here [she likes military history, so… ] Don’t waste time for “what ifs”. It’s the worst kind of energy drain you can give yourself. It undermines your self esteem – your fundamental power.
And I think this is big: “whatever darkness you were to face, within your own psyche, at the time of the regretful event, you will still have to face and deal with. It has only been postponed…”
2. What would Pollyanna do?
Get on the upward spiral.
If we want our spirit (mood, outlook) to be on the upward spiral, we need to train ourselves in finding good in every situation (to create new optimistic neuro pathways in the brain) This may require creativity, vision, imagination, the level of optimism that we lost in our 20’s, and patience to deal with people you will annoy.
What about an irreparable loss?
The only problem with this approach is – it hardly can apply when the loss is irreparable. How do you find something good in mindless loss of life or health. The cost is too high for any lesson. Yet people do it. The example is Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Nevertheless, this is a serious inner work, a quest to find meaning, for the person who deals with the issue. (see #3)
The bright side…
In lighter situations it’s a breeze: if that person didn’t see how wonderful you are – it is awesome! You will not have to struggle and prove yourself to her your whole life. You are not a world traveler at this time, but would love to? Be happy for what you have now- your own bed. You are less likely to be stuck at the airports because volcano ashes are covering the whole continent, (Europe 2010), less likely to die in tsunami (2004) or catch ebola (2014) So enjoy your sweet-home-arizona while you can.
In the past I did this game with myself using gratitude: most people write what they are grateful for, daily. When I realized I don’t have certain things – I decided to be grateful for what I have, as a result of not having them. I achieved the pollyanna effect in 100% of cases.
If Pollyanna had more reflective nature, she could also say that:
- EVERYTHING CHANGES.
- Nothing ever stays the same.
- Even stones wither.
- And you: you are a living, thinking, dynamic multi-dimensional being, living in a vibrant environment of ever changing circumstances.
- When you change – the circumstances change.
- And, naturally, the best is yet to come.
3. What would a spiritual seeker do?
A Course in Miracles, or The Science of Mind, or Kabbalah, or Universal Laws
Could the regret itself be the ending point in the sequence of the (regretful) events? Reflection is necessary if we want to avoid repeating situations, that led to regrets, and if we want to find Inner Peace. And to live mindfully.
Reflection is needed if we want to turn regrets into something constructive. Drawing conclusions can open up door to many possibilities.
The event that we see as negative could teach us an important lesson for the future. If we learn the lesson right now, we may avoid a larger disaster later in life. You start recognizing red flags, connecting dots. Noticing that … ok now I’m being asked to speak up for myself, I know because I see the need but I’m not comfortable about it, I need to overcome something within me to do it, but I failed before and regretted it, so I have to.
Where is the lesson? If we see life as a spiral (not a straight line) we’ll see, that some themes repeat themselves. Life is asking you to develop a certain character trait. Maybe it’s really prominent in one area of life (look for the area of dissatisfaction). A Course In Miracles says that a situation will be repeating itself in your life until you learn what you should learn. And each time the stakes will be higher.
Here is a useful set of questions: if I’m not happy how I did – what character traits were missing and prevented me from getting what I want? Which of my character traits sabotaged the end result?
We don’t see what the future brings as a result of the regretful event.
How many times did you want something and were sad you didn’t get it, only to realize later that you got something better? I’m not saying it’s a case every time, but everyone experienced this at some point. You could be devastated your husband of 20 years divorced you, and as a result you found a man of your dreams who takes you to Africa in a private plane. Or when you were waiting too long for dinner at a restaurant, the owner would insist you do not pay the bill. Real things.
“We are doing the best we can, based on the awareness and resources we have available at this time.” Our goal would be to expand our awareness, mostly awareness of ourselves. Often it is painful to learn about ourselves. Gaining self knowledge is like a visit at the dentist: it is not pleasant, but in the end you are happy you went.
The above quote – which I can’t attribute to anyone specific – also allows us to take it easy: how can you regret you didn’t do something 10 years ago, if at that time you didn’t have the experience and wisdom you have now.
If it was really bad…. Depending on the damage done to yourself or someone else – you feel guilty. But beating yourself up can only go for so long. That remorse is a good sign – that you actually have conscience (I can’t imagine anyone reading my blog without it) however there’s a problem if don’t learn, repair the damage and move beyond it: guilt attracts punishment. The more sensitive you are, the deeper need for punishment you may feel. Even self punishment may do (self sabotage, denying yourself good things, negative self image = negative self expression, lower self esteem)
A Course in Miracles say the “sin is punishment in itself.” If we messed up – this alone is our punishment.
If you missed an opportunity and now regret it: The Science of Mind says: There is more than one opportunity. We exist in Limitless Opportunities that forever seek expression through us. And “anything you can dream of is not too great for you to undertake, if it hurts no man, and brings happiness into your life”
Some people regret they didn’t tell that one person how special she / he is and now it’s too late. There are ways to have ‘closure’. Open up to the possibility of seeing (sensing, being) beyond the known and tangible. Is it possible? You don’t need proof in the area of spirituality. Give yourself permission to explore anything that brings you comfort (and doesn’t hurt others).
It is also what I hear between the lines of this song. …let the Light guide your Way.