Identify this Assumption and Free Yourself of Regret
I was talking with a man recently who’d been caring for his dying father.
"I left him to take care of some personal business,” he said. "I knew I shouldn’t have gone because something inside told me not to go. But, I didn’t listen. My father died while I was gone."
Regret. The word originates from Old French— regreter, which means "bewail (the dead), feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, esp. a loss or missed opportunity.")
"If only I’d been a better sister, brother, wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, or friend . . ."
"If only I’d said a, b or c."
"If only I hadn’t said a, b or c."
Get the picture?
In order to release regret, I invite you to think about a regret you have—something you did that you think you shouldn’t have (or, conversely, something you didn’t do that you think you should have). Choose something substantial and meaningful.
1. Write down your regret the way you say it to yourself.
(Using the above example: If only I’d listened to myself! I should have been there for my dad.)
Now, write your answers to the following questions. Do not jump ahead.
2. Tune-in to your thoughts. What do you tell yourself?
(Continuing with the above example: If only I’d listened to myself, my father wouldn’t have died alone. He shouldn’t have died alone. I let my father down and I let myself down. I was never a good enough son. I’m worthless.)
3. How do your thoughts make you feel? Write it down.
(I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel inadequate. I feel unworthy. I feel ashamed. I feel guilty.)
Don't read on until you've completed this process, because I want to point something out.
As you thought about the regret, did you notice that your mind automatically assumed that things would have turned out better if you hadn't done whatever it was you did? (Or, conversely, that things would have turned out better if you had done whatever it was you didn’t do?)
We assume an untruth when we're in the throes of regret: we assume that what we regret—the thing we shouldn't have done but did (or the thing we didn’t do that we think we should have)—would have turned out better than the actual outcome. But how can we possibly know with certainty?
Next time you’re in the throes of regret, challenge this assumption.
Truth be told, you don’t know how things would have turned out. None of us do! Our minds, however, tend to idealize what isn’t in lieu of what is. "If only . . . " is the accompanying refrain.
Here are some conscious assumptions/affirmations that I make. You may find them helpful, as well:
- Life is occurring, exactly as it is and exactly as it is not, regardless of my judgments about it:
Facilitates me in owning and releasing my judgments so that I can embrace what is.
- I am 100% responsible for my own experience:
Allows me to cease assigning blame so that, if I don't like what I'm feeling or experiencing, I can change. If you are blaming someone or something for the way you feel, take back your power. You are the only one who can change the way you feel. (Here's a tip-off. If you say or think, "I am upset because . . . " it implies that you are assigning blame somewhere.
- Every event provides an opportunity to grow spiritually:
Why is this happening to me? and/or why am I being punished? are questions that don't elicit powerful answers. I choose to ask powerful questions like, how can I grow from this, or what would my soul have wanted me to learn from this? These questions allow me to find growth and value in the most challenging of circumstances.
-I am free to choose my attitude and response in every moment:
Reminds me that I have free will, which includes the power to choose my response to life, regardless of circumstance.
Our beliefs generate our thoughts and our thoughts generate our feelings:
We are living in the feeling of our thinking, not in the feeling of our circumstances. If you want to feel differently, you have to think differently and in order to think differently you have to challenge and change your beliefs. Releasing what no longer serves us—assumptions, limiting beliefs, conditioned patterns, misinterpretations and judgments—allows us to grow spiritually. And guess what? Outer experience is a reflection of inner reality. When we change within, life shows up differently.
Now, I'm not advocating that we shouldn't grieve when a loved one transitions; quite to the contrary: if we’re present to sadness, we need to give ourselves permission to cry all of our tears. Living with regret, however, is unnecessary suffering.
I began this article by sharing about a man who’d been caring for his dying father.
"I left him to take care of some personal business,” he said. "I knew I shouldn’t have gone because something inside told me not to go. But I didn’t listen. My father died while I was gone."
I could hear the regret and guilt in the way his voice lowered and trailed off. Can you see how regret was showing up in the way I just described? In his mind things would have turned out better if he'd been there when his father transitioned. In his mind that's how it should have happened. But, I ask you: how can we possibly know with certainty? We can't. It is this underlying assumption that keeps regret in place.
"It was wrong of me to have left. I should have been there for him."
“Let's take this out of the arena of right or wrong," I said. "From a spiritual perspective, we can't judge it because we don't know. What if, on some level—for your highest good and the highest good of all concerned—you both agreed to play it out this way? What might your soul have wanted you to learn from the experience?”
He paused. “I guess my soul would have wanted me to learn to listen to myself.”
“What a beautiful gift your father’s given you. Would you be willing to accept it, receive it and be thankful for it? If I were a gambling person, I'd bet that’s what he'd want for you.”
“But he died alone.”
“My aunt was alone when she transitioned. She told me, through a medium, that it was precisely how she wanted. Would you be willing to consider the possibility that it’s how your father may have wanted it, too? He may have been waiting for you to leave so that he could transition."
“That never occurred to me.”
"And although we all make the transition from physical to spiritual on our own, are we ever really alone? I don't think so."
The session continued a bit longer, but can you feel the energy start to free up?
The next time you find yourself deep in regret, remember to challenge your assumptions. No matter what you've done—or haven't—you are lovable, adequate and worthy . . . and all is well.
P.S. Your worth isn’t in what you do or what you have. It’s in who you are. Just by BEING, you are inherently lovable, adequate and worthy. It’s the LAW of the universe: Lovable, Adequate, Worthy
If you have questions or if I can be of service through Soul-Centered Coaching, send me an email:
Copyright © 2009 by Irene Kendig