I just read a great article about growing from our regrets.
The article talked about a UC Berkeley study of 400 people who were invited to share their biggest regret in life then asked to write about the regret with self-compassion and understanding. In evaluating the results, researchers found that some of the group focused on their transgressions, some described hobbies they enjoyed (?), and some wrote about their regrets with a positive tilt and a good self-esteem.
After the writing exercise, researchers also asked participants how much they accepted that the event had happened and forgave themselves for it, suspecting that these factors might be involved. And it turned out that acceptance played a role: Compared with the other two groups, the participants practicing self-compassion were more accepting, and acceptance was in turn linked to more motivation to improve.
My biggest regrets:
- The way I handled tough situations with my children, especially when they were quite young and especially one of them in particular who very sensitive and who I simply did not have the skills to parent effectively.
- The failure of my marriage.
Now I know that I did the best I could. I love my children with all my heart and I did a great many things quite well. I cannot change what happened but I can love them as unconditionally as possible now, ask for their forgiveness for my failures and give a reprieve to that woman who tried hard to do the right thing but who did not know what she did not know. In regards to my marriage, the best thing I've done is forgiven a poor sick man for the "unforgivable" and accepted my part (and I did have a big part) in the demise.
Regrets no longer paralyze me; they are a catalyst for growth. Facing my fears straight on and not making others responsible for alleviating them has been, by far, the biggest step towards change. The changes also include; a much kinder person with greater empathy for the broken people who cross my path, a longer fuse, a world with shades of gray instead of black and white and a faith in a great big God who is no longer defined by the narrowness of a community who forgets that God is Love first and foremost.
Ps. The article also had a link to a Self-Compassionate Letter and I've included that link because I think it's a great idea: Self-Compassionate Letter