Recently I was reminded the difference between disappointment and regret. Disappointment has to do with expectations. Our expectations can be dependent on our own actions, the actions of others, circumstances beyond our control or a combination of any of these.
Regret, however, has to do with choices. Choices that we have made. Hindsight is 20/20 they say. And it can be riddled with regret. We all have regrets we have to deal with and some are harder to get past than others. Regret can be paralyzing. It doesn’t allow us to move forward in that area because we are always revisiting the moment we made, what we think is, the wrong decision. So how do we get past regret?
1. Learn from it
On this side of regret, it doesn’t matter why we made the choice we made. At the time, for whatever reason, we made that particular choice and there’s no way to go back a choose differently. What we can do is learn from our mistakes. What drove us to make that decision? Was it fear? Pressure from others? Time constraints? Lack of information? Lapse in judgment? Knowing what motivated us can help us not make the same mistake again.
2. Guard your heart from what if’s.
The truth is that hindsight is not 20/20. In fact, it’s quite distorted. Since our present situation is not what we wanted, we live in the “what if” world where the other choice would have been better. The problem with that is that there is no way of knowing how accurate we are in our belief that we would have been better off with that situation. Too many variables! Of course we think that would have been better! Yes, it might have been better in some ways, but it would have brought it’s own challenges. Because that is life. There is no such thing as an easy or perfect way. Every scenario has its own challenges. And there’s no guarantee that had we made that choice, we wouldn’t be sitting there regretting not having made this one! There’s simply no way of knowing, yet we spend a ton of energy envisioning what might have been instead of making the best of what is.
3. God works everything for good. Our God is a resourceful God. Some of the greatest stories I’ve heard have been the ones where God took the worst decisions and turned them around. He makes no exceptions. He will do that for anyone who takes their mistakes and hands them over to Him to fix.
Regret is painful. It’s paralyzing. It focuses on the past, wasting our present and stealing our future. While it is true that our bad choices can lead to bad situation, there is no reason to dwell on it. It is done. All we can do now is learn from it, guard our hearts from the what if’s and remember that God can turn anything around. Move forward. There is more to be done. And with your experience, you’re just the one for the job.