Truth be told, perfectionism runs in my family. My dear parents, sisters whom I love very much are absolute perfectionists in their own unique ways (myself included, of course). I’ve seldom heard of them talking about feeling happy or enthusiastic when making an awesome decision.
As for me, there were only right choices (they are supposed to be made flawlessly as planned) or choices of failure with tons of regret attached. I’ve been raised up to treat the word “regret” as an important part of our family communication. We should’ve have done that… I could’ve been more… You wouldn’t have said that…, etc.
In spite of how frequently we “actively practice” regret as a ritual in the family, I had never considered it as a big sin, until one day when I started feeling bizarre about my social encounters. So, whenever there was a public praise on either my appearance or professional accomplishment, instead of saying a simple thank you and acknowledge it, I felt an urgent need to say “but, I…” to justify that I was not all that put together and whatnot.
I couldn’t understand why it was just so awkward and uncomfortable to receive any external compliments from others with an open heart. I got messed up by showing regrets while attempting to demonstrate my humbleness. In fact, deep down, there was a part of me that didn’t feel like I was worthy of deserving any compliment just because “I am not yet all that perfect, period.”
This whole “regretful expression” got quite serious that not only I couldn’t bond with people in a right way, but it created communication gap and misunderstanding with others. Consequently, it brought me unnecessary anxiety.
We might underestimate how much regret can impact our quality of life. True, sometimes it’s difficult to anticipate because it could sound like a quick venting, but this enduring feeling can directly affect different areas of our life.
So, here’re my 4 top strategies on how to stay mindful when regrets come at you.
1. Practice awareness
Do you hear yourself saying “I should’ve…, could’ve…, would’ve…?” What is the frequency? You can try this fun rubber band exercise that I learned from a mentor of mine. Put it on your wrist. Every time you complain, blame or focus on what is not working, you will change the rubber band to the other wrist. Then say, “I give myself permission to concentrate on what is working.”
Notice what you notice. What comes up, release it without having to figure it out or analyze it. Focus your attention on “X is working in my life and I’m grateful for this.” See how putting your focused awareness on what is working shifts your life.
2. Sense yourself in the present
Be aware of the timing space. Are you future-tripping or past-regressing? If you notice that you are, pull yourself back a bit to see the surrounding.
What do you EXACTLY see, hear, smell, feel, taste now, at this moment?? We are so digitally addicted nowadays that it’s so easy to get used to the numbing state. Connect with your five senses with intention and grab all your raw human perceptions back! First, SLOW DOWN everything you are doing.
You can activate your senses by experiencing everything for THE FIRST TIME as you’ve just arrived on the planet:
– Savoring a sip of coffee
– Smelling the fragrance the person just passing by in the room,
– Seeing the details of the painting hanging on the wall,
– Walking barefoot on grass,
– Touching the hair around your neck, however way you like it.
How do these sensations make you feel? Remember to do everything slowly, and you can immediately connect with your present self by whatever preference (visual, auditory, olfactory, etc.) you choose to stimulate and tap into!
3. Journal your heart out
What a cliché I thought. All gurus out there are talking about journaling. Honestly speaking, I was not a big fan of journaling at all; not till I started realizing the real effect was kicking in. It is not intended to be a long “diary,” but just a short, simple list of things you are grateful for on that particular day.
This is a place to honor and appreciate the good in your life. You do not have to keep a daily one if that’s too much of a workload for you, but you can choose to do it on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (as long as it’s not an annual one, lol). Rather than storing everything in your headspace, you stimulate the kinesthetic system through writing, and you can better develop a harmonious relationship with your heart.
Besides Love, gratitude is one of the greatest vibration you can experience in life. Being truly grateful for what is already present in your life will automatically and effortlessly attract more good into your life. Even if you feel awful towards something just happened or a while back, practice to write more self-compassionate words as you are to your own best friend. Then decide to let go of that feeling of regret (low vibrational energy) simply because you’ve already done your absolute best at that point in time.
4. Ask a different “What If” Question
Stop asking yourself, “What if I had never done this or that?”
No matter what is going on in your life, stopping your resistance to the present moment, practice asking, “What if this is supposed to be happening. And every choice I’ve made so far is as perfect as it has been to serve my highest good?”
This immediately helps release our overthinking so we can access our wisdom calmly and move forward. We don’t get stuck, and we don’t need to feel sorry for ourselves.
“Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important, and by far the most life-changing.”
– Zig Ziglar
Toning down our regret towards certain things in life does take some practice. But be mindful of the fact that words are powerful. Either they serve you or destroy you. So, let’s choose them wisely.
Sending you lots of love, joy, peace and happiness,