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How to Get Over Major Regrets in Life

By: Brian Kim - March 8, 2010

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There are regrets.

Then there are REGRETS.

MAJOR REGRETS.

The ones that gnaw in the back of your mind.

The ones that pop up over the years when you felt you finally made peace with it.

The ones that never seem to be put to rest.

The ones that ask that burning question:

“What if?

What if I didn’t do x?

How would my life be different?

How would it be better?

I never shouldn’t have done that.”

The result – an erosion of one’s confidence in their ability to choose, to decide.

A person plagued with self doubt.

Not something you want to carry around in your head at all.

The usual advice?

“Get over it. What’s done is done. The past is gone. Man up and move on.”

Easier said than done.

Time might heal the regret, but the splinter will always be there for some.

So how do we get over our major regrets in life?

Realize this.

YOU ARE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE RIGHT NOW.

This moment.

Right now.

When you really internalize this, it neutralizes the “what if” path that regrets are notorious for generating.

Think about it. If you’re exactly where you need to be right now, all the alternate routes that you play in your mind – what good are they? They certainly don’t result in you being where you are right now do they? And since right now is where you need to be, those alternate routes are NOT where you need to be.

It also forces you to leverage what you regretted in your life into your favor now (more on that later).

Some might say this is a copout or a classic case of the use of a defense mechanism.

Call it whatever you want.

I call it choosing to believe in something that EMPOWERS you, not disempowers you.

We all see what we believe.

Our beliefs are the great filters of life.

And the great thing is we as human beings have the ability to CHOOSE – to CHOOSE which filters to put over our eyes.

We believe we made bad choices and become filled with regrets – we wallow in the mud.

Or we can get up and realize that we are right where we need to be right now. That everything we’ve done in life has in some way shape or form, contributed to where we are right now.

And that we are exactly where we need to be.

Right now.

Take for example, the classic regret of “the one that got away”.

There’s not a lot of things in this world that can punch somebody in the gut like this sort of regret. It’s always in the back of your mind – painting alternate universes, second guessing yourself of not just that choice, but every choice you made thus far in life.

You can choose to remain in that default reactionary state of regret.

Or you can choose to believe – you are exactly where you need to be right now.

That the purpose of that experience was to get you to finally take a moment to reflect on who you are, where your values lie, what your vision for the future is and CRYSTALLIZE it, to the point where you begin to see the type of person your real ideal partner should be, not somebody just based on physical attraction and moreover, exactly where you need to go to find such a person.

And you become grateful for the experience, because you realized you dodged a bullet.

This is what I meant when I said that it forces you to leverage what you regretted in your life into your favor now.

If you say to yourself that you are exactly where you need to be right now, the next question you ask yourself is:

Why?

So your mind searches backwards and starts constructing a new train of thought, one that puts together all the pieces of the past that used to gnaw at you into this sequence of events that pile up to create a sense of urgency to get you to take the action you need to NOW to get to where you want to be.

It’s almost like time traveling in a sense – mentally speaking.

Having this kind of belief also allows you the FREEDOM to “make mistakes”. You can’t lose because with every action you take, you end up in a place where you’re supposed to be and your mind takes the events that have happened thus far, and reconstructs them again in your favor – in a way to get you to take more action now.

This is one the best ways to get over major regrets in life.

To stop living in the past.

To stop second guessing the choices you’ve made and your general decision making ability.

To finally put to bed all the “what ifs” in your life, and finally realize that you are truly indeed, exactly where you need to be.

Right now.

This moment.

This very second.

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4 Responses to “How to Get Over Major Regrets in Life”

  1. Omar Says:

    Thanks for this Brian. It’s depressing thinking of what could have been? It took me awhile to get over missed opportunities. By continually reading self improvement blogs such as yours helped me overcome this mental barrier. Once in a while it creeps in my mind. But I try not to dwell on it.

  2. Tony Papajohn Says:

    Lots of good stuff, Brian. I would add this: Regret is actually the imagination misfiring. What generates the feeling of regret anyway? Mental pictures, movies, and playing scenarios in the theater of the mind about “what might have been.” When we imbue these images and movies with emotional voltage, we experience the certain feeling that we call “regret.” So this suggests a solution. Keep vigil on your imagination and make it serve you instead of generating regret.

  3. Adam Says:

    Great post Brian. I’m about to make a major change in my life this year, and I love reading posts like this that help remind me to stay in the “Now.”

  4. Brian Kim Says:

    You’re very welcome Omar and Adam.

    Tony, great point. I like it!

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