I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions. I say the usual things just like everyone else...I'm going to eat less, exercise more, live a healthier life...but I've never really set specific goals that I intended to work towards in the upcoming year. I'm making a change this year though by setting one BIG goal, making one BIG resolution...to let go of past regrets. That shouldn't be too difficult should it? (HA!) We all have regrets...things we did or said that we wish we hadn't, things we didn't do or say that we wish we had...they're a part of life. I've spent a lot of time this holiday season thinking about the past, the mistakes I know I made, and the regrets I have as a result. Just as we all have regrets, we've also all made mistakes. We're human, and like regrets mistakes are a part of life. If we didn't make mistakes there wouldn't be anything for us to learn from. Mistakes and regrets can teach us some of life's greatest lessons.
My problem is getting "bogged down" in my mistakes and beating myself up over things I can't do anything about. My regrets become like a cloud hanging over me that I can't get out from under. I let them turn into feelings of guilt, and I blame myself for things I can't change. In my head I know this is useless, a waste of my time and energy. Should haves and shouldn't haves are irrelevant. "Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, it might have been." (Kurt Vonnegut) As much as we'd like to we can't go back and change the past...we can't undo what's already been done. Knowing this and accepting it though are two different things.
I know this goal isn't something I can accomplish overnight. My regrets have built up over many years and are based on many mistakes, so it will take time to let go of them. To be honest I'm not even sure what "letting go" means or how to go about doing it. I know all of the things I've read...take responsibility for my actions, apologize for things I've done wrong, ask for forgiveness from anyone I feel I've hurt, learn from my mistakes, and finally forgive myself. I think I've done the first three as much as I possibly can - I've taken responsibility, apologized, and asked for forgivness. I'm continuing to do the fourth - learning from what I've done wrong. It's the last one I need to work on. Often we are harder on ourself than others are, so forgiving ourself isn't always as easy as forgiving someone else.
I can let my mistakes and my regrets continue to be a constant burden, or I can use them as a motivation to improve myself. I can dwell on my past mistakes, or I can learn from them and use the experiences to shape a better future. I can stay focused on the chances I've lost, or I can look at the possibilities ahead of me. I can remain trapped in the past, or I can slowly close the door on it, leaving the regrets behind. These are the choices I have. I know what the right ones are. Now I just have to act on them. "Never look back unless you are planning to go that way." (Henry David Thoreau)