Last night was another episode of the Ex-Wives Club with Debbie Ford on ABC. Each week Debbie and the celebrity hosts shepherd people through the angst of their breakup so they can mend their broken heart and move on with their lives in an even more powerful and positive way. The question from the Debbie Ford workshop that I’d like to talk about today is: “What is your biggest regret?”
When we carry regret around in our heart it is like hauling along a 100lb weight around our neck and feeling great shame. This shame and weight is always there even when we’re experiencing positive things in our life and it dulls our experience of what IS while we’re lamenting over what we think “should have been” or what we think we “should have done”. It keeps us stuck in the past and unable to move forward. It is like wearing concrete boots as we try to walk forward in our life. Not pleasant and it holds us back.
In last night’s show the woman profiled biggest regret was that she felt she didn’t devote enough time or attention to her marriage or her kids. She made that mean that it was her fault that her husband ran off and had an affair with another woman. As is often the case when relationships go sour, we wonder “what did I do wrong” or “what is wrong with me”? Then, we spin a blanket of regrets and “what ifs” that leaves us stuck in the past trying to figure it out like a puzzle to be solved. The problem with this is that there is no puzzle to be solved – circumstances are what they are. The only way out is through and to move through the situation you need to let go and forgive (yourself and others).
Regrets are great for beating ourselves up. We look back at something we wish we would’ve done or said and then spend the next 10, 20, 30, or more years beating ourselves up for it. I know from personal experience! The problem is we can’t change nor live in the past if we want to be present in our life and really live it. Letting go and forgiving is the process of giving up the hope that the past should have been or will ever be different than it was. The only thing to do with regrets is to let them go and use them as a means to inform our present. After all, there is always a gift in a regretful situation. How can you use that gift to make more powerful choices today and in the future?
Take a few moments and ask yourself:
- What is my biggest regret?
- What is the gift in the way the situation, relationship, etc. played out even though I have this regret?
- What do I need to do to forgive myself or another and let go of my hope that the past will be different?