You’re More Than The Mistakes You’ve Made

You carry the weight of a regret – maybe even a bundle of regrets – that you just can’t seem to put down. Perhaps in your more honest moments, you think you don’t deserve to let it go. By carrying it around, you feel you’re doing a kind of penance. But somewhere inside, you realise that carrying it around is not doing you or anyone any good. It’s not making the situation right for others. And, it’s not making you a better person. Still, walking away from the regret seems impossible and, perhaps, irresponsible and uncaring.

This dilemma is more common than you might think. Being human practically comes with a guarantee that you will do things you regret. Even if you haven’t been able to move on, others do. They find a way to come to terms with their regret, freeing them to enjoy life. You can do this, too, if you choose to face your actions and the human error behind them.

If you struggle with regret, you may have already taken a step in the right direction by taking responsibility for what you did or didn’t do. It’s important that you acknowledge this responsibility – or “own up to it” – without making excuses for your mistake. It’s okay, and even important, to understand the reasons for your actions, but that does not excuse you.

At the same time, though, it’s important to balance “owning” your actions with acknowledging and accepting that you’re simply human. Everyone has limits. There are some things you can’t, or simply don’t, know – that’s just part of being human. And even when you do know better, you will sometimes make errors in judgment. You will, at times, act emotionally and irrationally. You have weaknesses and flaws and you will make mistakes.

Think about the friends, children, or other family whom you accept and love despite their imperfections. Your acceptance of them as human is the same feeling you need to practice for yourself. Because, in reality, your mistakes are a testament to your humanity, not your failing as a person.

Even as you come to terms with your regret, you will still feel upset about it – whether that means you feel guilty, sad, or some other emotion.

Here are 5 steps you can take to help you start working through those feelings.

1. Don’t deny or suppress these emotions. Allow them in. They are part of you. Just as you would soothe an emotional child, choose to soothe yourself.

2. Tell yourself that you will be okay. Act compassionately toward yourself. You might go for a hike in the woods or take a long, hot bath.

3. Reach out to a caring and supportive friend who can help you feel better.

4. If you can, make amends. Say you are sorry. Do something kind for the person you hurt.

5. If that’s not possible, you might commit to helping others in similar situations. For instance, if you realize that you haven’t been there to help loved ones through troubled times, you can choose to help those  in need now.

Maybe those you’ve hurt will forgive you. Maybe not. Maybe it’s less about what others think and more about your own disappointment in yourself. Whatever the regret is that you carry, you are ultimately responsible for lightening your own load. You must see that you are more than just the mistakes you’ve made.

You may never feel good about the thing you regret. But you can still feel good about being you.

This Article Was Originally Posted On WebMD