“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” - George Bernard Shaw
“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” - Sophia Loren
If you conduct an internet search you will find quote after quote, by famous and successful people, noting the ubiquity and normality of mistakes, along with their potential usefulness and upside. That’s right; the happiest and most successful people view mistakes as positives!
Despite this, many of us regret those things that have not worked out the way we hoped or expected they would: the mistakes we’ve made and the faults we perceive within.
Now it is worth noting that just as mistakes are a normal part of life, so too are regrets. But just as I noted above, there are numerous quotes citing the ubiquity yet unhelpfulness of holding on to past wrongs.
Alexander Graham Bell, for example, famously noted that “when one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Which is where “Let it Go Day” comes in. Created by Thomas and Ruth Roy and celebrated on June 23, Let it Go Day was established with the intent of encouraging people to let go of their regrets and to forgive themselves for actions taken in the past. After all, the past cannot be changed and only the present and the future are within our control.
So how, then, can one deal with regret and move forward?
If this is a question you’ve asked or are asking, then try these practical strategies to get your life back on track:
Accept and acknowledge that you are, and everyone is imperfect and fallible – this sounds obvious yet we all need to remind ourselves of this important fact from time to time. Facing up to imperfection should not be seen as negative or pessimistic, but more just as a reality that can reduce disappointment and frustration
Ask yourself whether regret is helping you in any way – as noted above, regret is a common experience; but this doesn’t mean it’s a helpful one! Dwelling on past wrongs typically doesn’t achieve anything apart from creating more negativity and recognising this is one of the first steps to constructively addressing it
Reflect upon lessons you can learn; thereby turning a negative into a positive – although none of us like failure, we can all learn from failure. And by learning we can grow and mature and become better. Ultimately, then, positively reflecting on development opportunities can help us put the past behind in a useful way
Apply the “serenity prayer” – there’s a well-known “philosophy” that encourages us to change what we can change, accept what we can’t change, and to be wise enough to know the difference. Such an approach would be extremely relevant to and useful when it comes to letting go of regrets
Practice gratitude – focus more on what you have and less on what you don’t have
Set a clear and positive direction for the future, then plan what you need to do to get there – letting go of past regrets will be easier and most helpful if there’s then something attractive and inspiring to which to aim for! That is, setting goals that will improve the quality of your life and then working towards them is just as important as getting over past hurts
So there you have it. Make June 23 the day to refocus your life back on to the positives you want and use the strategies introduced above to help you “let go” and “move on”. Then use them again every day you need them!