Move Past Regret by Doing its Opposite

eweber   January 17, 2009   22 Comments

Asked what they most regretted, retirees named lack of preparation for retirement. You? People who regret  missed chances from past, also tended to focus less on present prospects.

No wonder lamenters continue to miss out daily. New studies show that older folks should let go of regret faster, with some indication that younger people can benefit from holding onto regrets longer. At all ages use caution as regret can be deadly as a spear to the mind.

Regret’s a bit like staring out the rear view mirror while  navigating fast forward on a busy freeway. Far better to glance back at regrets intermittently in rear view mirrors, yet gaze intently out front windows to build trust that moves us  forward with focus.

Rarely Easy at First

Regrets for failed finances, for what could have been, for caring words left unspoken, for dreams left unreached.   Whether regret’s for starting late, working  little, spending  much, failing tests, or trusting the wrong people, regret opens a crash course for more failure. You could say, it beams light on doors left unopened, yet fails to illumine opportunities ahead.  

How do you let go of regret?

Strategies to consider:

  • Chase one new adventure today and watch past disappointments dim.  Working memory delights in current ventures.
  • Risk refiring a favorite hobby.  Or  launch new project for profit or fun, and your brain rewires past regrets into new wonders most people merely dream of reaching.
  • Inspire new incentives with a diverse group, and prevent your brain from defaulting back to ruts of regret that block creativity.
  • Draw on  a few more intelligences, and stomp out regrets that come from limited mental resouces.
  • Laugh at the little things today, and regrets will flee in humor’s chemical hormones released in the brain, for new life with fresh chances.
  • Change the chemical and electrical networks in your brain from regret to rejuvenated relationships that emulate care and curiosity.

Bypass Dangers of Regret

Research shows how regret stops mental growth, triggers potentially dangerous chemicals and shuts out any new shoots of opportunity that could be yours.

Think of regret as the dam that stops fresh flowing waters finances, or sudden roadblocks that barricade new highways opportunities.

Can you see regret now from your brain’s perspective?

The opposite of regret that stops your progress, is …? Begin there, do the opposite today, and your brain rewires its plasticity to rejuvenate your situation.

Because of our unique mix of intelligences, answers differ for different people, but your brain can transform regret into positive financial brainpower, say, only when you act on grief’s opposites.

How will you reboot your brain beyond regret and onto new neuron pathways to success?

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22 thoughts on “Move Past Regret by Doing its Opposite

  1. michael cardus

    Ellen what a great and appropiate post for me this morning.
    The idea of laughter and humor allowing your brain to leave behind regret. I agree I often find that when people begin to laugh regret is suppresed.

    I feel that regret also comes from “scripts” that we allow our brains and selfs to become ingrained in. All of your techniques are excellent for createing divergent paths to get us out of these scripts of behaviors.

    When working with teams I find a team regret. An entire department, team, company, etc.. creates a shared regret that keeps them from moving forward.

    Thank you

    michael carduss last blog post..iSixSigma Award

  2. eweber Post author

    Michael, now you’ve made my day too! Thanks for stopping by and for minding us of the “scripts” we can fall prey to! That’s the basil ganglia collections of a lifetime and regrets hold the worst of these on center stage to pull us down.

    Wow – I’d never considered a team regret! Do you suppose a person who is less skillful and getting past regret in individual life – would also effectively hold some teams in that same regret by their actions? This would make an amazing post!

  3. eweber Post author

    Thanks for weighing in Greg, and what you say makes a great deal of sense. Given the fact that some leaders, lead great teams past collective regrets, what trait might leaders bring to that process to facilitate a team forward, in spite of barriers that come through regrets expressed by one or several team members?

  4. Conrad

    As we move to a new government administration, this is a perfect time to focus forward rather than focusing on our national regrets. The election cycle itself showed people’s hunger for moving forward rather than looking back.

    Your posts are always uplifting. I think you should run in 2016!

  5. eweber Post author

    Conrad you make me smile. Had not thought about it — but as you pointed out — we are finally moving forward as a nation! Woe – that IS good news for the economy and for all of us. Seems to me that each of us could find ways to ensure the “forward” part of the motion though:-) You do well at that! Thanks!

  6. JD

    The entire working world should read this post. I am retired but I now work full time as a recruiter. The couple of years I took off was cool but also made me learn, I enjoy the work week,you are right you must process the past and bring the things you have learned to the current day in order to anticipate a bright. Finding the best of the past, present and future is the challenge for retirement.

    JDs last blog post..StarWise on Leadership

  7. eweber Post author

    Jim, you do this so well, and you have inspired me to do the same. Daily we could find lots to regret or lots to savor. When I think of wonderful fellow leaders like you I choose the latter every time! Thanks for all you teach us and all you model. Life may not be easy — but it’s an amazing adventure when you have inspiring friends to walk alongside! Thanks Jim!

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