It is easy to look back on life so far and think of things you would have done differently. You might dream of having had more courage, more patience, or more discipline. You imagine who you could have been from who you are now, as if the wisdom of today could have been put to use back then.
It couldn’t have, however. The life experiences gained since then have shaped you into the current version of you. Expecting yourself to have been able to create the life you now wish you had, from the reduced life experiences, is not only unrealistic, it is unkind on yourself.
So do you allow these regrets to shape your ongoing life negatively or choose otherwise? Do you choose to be hard on yourself, carrying the burden of regret and remorse right through your life, constantly judging and condemning yourself for what you did or didn’t do? This not only validates the regret, but continues to give it power, further reducing the potential joy of your life. Given this power, the regret of what you did or didn’t do can shape you into someone you don’t actually need to be.
At any point, a choice can be made to use that regret in a positive way instead. Unless you are now on your deathbed, whatever you feel has stopped you from living as you now wish you had, can still be attained and put to good use in the time remaining. It is not too late to make positive changes within yourself. The details and exact scenario may no longer be available, but the actions and resulting energy are still possible.
Say, for example, you wish you had been more honest with someone who has now died. You carry the regret of silence, which over the years has become a heavy burden. Rather than stay in a place of regret, you can use the lesson now and in your future as a way to be more courageous and honest with everyone you come across. That courage will gently absorb some of your regret, in time rewarding you with a lighter heart.
Regret can also be used positively, by being a tool to develop compassion for yourself. Who you were then is not who you are now. You made choices and either took action or didn’t, based on who you were at a certain point in your life. It is a different time now and you have more life lessons under your belt that have shaped you into a more evolved person than back then.
So use the wisdom and life experiences to now look back on who you were with gentleness and compassion, rather than judgment and condemnation. Let the regret teach you how to be kinder to yourself instead.
If you give it to them, regrets can have a lot of power to shape your ongoing life. The choice is yours though. Don’t you think you’ve done your time, paid your penance, and carried the self-judgment for long enough now?
It is now time to leave the past behind. It is time to forgive yourself.
It is time to love you and all of your frailties, past and present.
It is time to accept your own kindness.