Regrets? We’ve all had a few. Whether its things you did and wished you didn’t, or things you never did and wished you had, the sting of regret bites hard. Actress Hayden Panettiere had the words “No Regrets” tattooed on her body in Italian. The problem was that she misspelled the word regret. Now she’s having the tattoo lasered off. The best part of the story is what a good sport she is about it. She got the tattoo as a reminder of a great lesson her Dad taught her as a kid. When she was upset about something, he slammed the bathroom door, which forced a closet door open at the same time. Then he slammed the closet door, and the bathroom door opened. He said to her, ‘Whenever one door closes, another one always opens,’
I love the image, and so did she. She got the tattoo to remind herself not to regret anything. Now even the tattoo is schooling her in the same lesson. She said, “It’s not that you don’t regret things in life, but you at least try to learn from them.”
We could all take a little ink out of Hayden’s tattoo. The Japanese Kimono gown is a beautiful symbol of this same lesson. Some Kimonos have very plain outer designs but immaculate and exquisite decoration on the inside of the gown. Some of them are even intentionally imperfect on the outside. We should all keep something flawed or misspelled close by to remind us that this is the nature of life. If we get hung up on imperfections, we will live in a state of perpetual regret.
Its what’s on the inside that matters, and the inside is where we handle disappointment without lapsing into bitterness or regret.
So here goes with ten tips to leaving regret behind:
1. Invest your time and energy wisely- If you keep in the back of your mind that one day you will be looking back on choices you make today, you can make choices now that you will be proud of for years to come. (or not, because none of us is perfect, but this is a later step and I don’t want to regret getting ahead of myself here)
But as far as is humanly possible, make choices now that align with your highest hopes and you will minimize regret later.
As Stephen Covey says, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.”
2. Take responsibility for your choices. No one is holding a gun to your head when you make choices. If it feels like someone is holding you to ransom, you need to find more options. The beauty of this step is that its all YOU! You get to decide. If things work well, kudos. If things don’t work out well, fine, change course, its still YOU! Do it freely without guilt or shame.
Victoria Holt said, “Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad, it’s experience.”
3. Accept that mistakes are part of life. We all make mistakes, so do your best in each moment, forgive yourself if need be and move on.
Author, Jodi Picoult wrote, “My dad used to say that living with regrets was like driving a car that only moved in reverse.” Living with regret slows you down and saps your energy because its HARD to run backwards and its exhausting to constantly look over memory’s shoulder. We all have things we wish were different, so learn to shrug your shoulders and say “Oh well!”
4. Focus your energy on what you learned rather than what happened to you.