Dear reader, do you ever struggle with regrets?
Regrets can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The dictionary defines regret as a conscious negative emotion
Regrets = those things we did and said that we knew were wrong
Regrets all have to do with choices we make at some point in our lives. We look back and we regret certain things and those regrets can plague us throughout our lives. So how do we find peace? How do we deal with those regrets and put them to sleep so that they do not continue to affect us in the present?
Well, if we regret something that we knew was wrong but still did it, then there is only one way to deal with it and that is to ‘repent’. Repent is an old-fashioned word so what does it mean? Well it means doing a U turn. Wherever possible it may mean saying sorry to those affected by our wrong doing. It means seeking forgiveness and not doing it again; So a change of direction. Just speaking it out and saying sorry is often all that is needed to put the thing to rest. However, we may not always be forgiven by those we hurt, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue being plagued by regrets. We cannot force someone to forgive us but forgiveness is always available from God. In fact, seeking his forgiveness for what we have done is the first priority because God freely forgives all who truly repent. Sometimes seeking the help of a priest in this respect can help too. There have been times in my own life when I have needed to hear the words of absolution spoken over me. Just hearing someone else pronounce our forgiveness after hearing our confession can finally close the door on our regrets.
Regrets = things we failed to do or say that we now wish we had.
Depending on the wrong deed or choices we made, it may be necessary to make recompense. So doing something good as a way of making amends can also help. However, if the people affected by our wrong deed are no longer with us it will be too late to apologise to them. We may regret never having said sorry to them. That is the time to speak to God instead. We can speak to God as if we were speaking to them. We need to be clear about what we are sorry for...Dear God I am sorry for the hurt I caused...(name) by my actions, please heal the situation.
Regrets = things we did that were not wrong, but we now wish we had not done them or had done things differently
Sometimes others will not be affected by what we did but we still regret the deed because of how it has affected our own lives. Or we may regret something that we didn’t do or say. We cannot keep living in the past and we have to realise that we cannot turn the clock back but this is where we need God’s help. I find it helpful to pray at times like this. I tell God the whole story. I tell him how I feel about it now and I ask him to help me to let it go. This is like drawing a line in the sand, with my confession to God I choose to leave it in the past and move on with my life.
Regrets = things that we did that were not wrong but affected others negatively.
Other regrets come from things that we did that were not wrong in themselves but had consequences that perhaps affected others. Even the right choices we make for ourselves can hurt others. So we need to differentiate between true guilt and false guilt. Not everyone will agree with our choices and we are not responsible for their reactions. However, we can still live with a lifetime of guilt so we still follow the principles of confession and forgiveness. But we do not say sorry for what we did, we say sorry for the way our actions hurt them. We do not need to live in regret or with this guilt either.
Space does not allow me to go into all the things that can help you deal with regret but do know that Living with guilt or regret is not necessary. With God all things are possible so don’t live with guilt or regret but if you need help please do contact me and I would be happy to speak further with you about it.