Overcoming End of the Year Regrets: The Conversation We Should Have with Ourselves

Tough times often make us feel like kicking ourselves in the behind, but, to paraphrase the famous line in Eric Segal’s book “Love Story,” you don’t necessarily have to say you’re sorry.

Yes, many of us have lost our homes—or didn’t sell them because we got caught in the runaway train called Holding Out for a Better Deal. Or perhaps we didn’t trust our instincts and change jobs the moment we heard that little voice in our heads that said Do It Now. And some of us invested in deals where that same little voice said If It’s Too Good to Be True, It Isn’t.

Okay. The combination of tough times, denial and dreams of a platinum-level degree of financial security got the better of many of us. So what should we do? Keep kicking? Drown in regret? Of course not. The best advice is to have a private conversation with ourselves so we can activate and strengthen that Angel on the Right Shoulder that the Devil on the Left Shoulder is doing a pretty good job lately of weakening. Use this version for starters and make it your own.

Devil: You made dumb decisions—spent too much, didn’t budget, had blinders on, played it safe, passed up a decent relationship and didn’t trust that inner voice.

Angel: So what. At least my eyes are open now. I won’t close smart doors this time. I refuse to be powerless. I’ll think first, get help and then act. Life is filled with trial and error. That’s how we all learn.

Devil: Regret stays forever and can’t be gotten over.

Angel: Well, maybe, but I can weaken their power. Besides, focusing on getting over regrets is wrongheaded. Instead, I’m going to learn from my past. Few of us catch our mistakes all the time. I’m not falling for “should and ought.” Today is a new day. And who knows—I may not have arrived at this new place of resolve if I hadn’t had the experiences I did. So there.

Devil: Yeah, I got news for you. You closed some doors.

Angel: So what? Even good decisions close other doors. And who says every door is closed now? All lives include regret—or else you haven’t lived. Hah—take that.

Devil: Time is running out.

Angel: And that’s why I’m acting now. I’m going to keep in mind my good qualities, hopes, strengths and accomplishments of all sizes. And then I’m moving forward—no matter how scary and difficult.

Devil: I get the last act, though.

Angel: No you don’t. I do. My tombstone isn’t going to say “I Quit.” How about the words “ I Said Yes.”

Happy New Year to you and your Angels.

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Author's Bio: 

LeslieBeth Wish is a Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker and author who is nationally recognized for her contributions to women, love, relationships, family, career, workplace, and organizations.

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