Living With Regrets: Would You Forget If You Could?

We all have regrets.

I regret that time I cut my own bangs when I was 8, or when I wore 6-inch “Spice Girls” platform shoes as a teenager.

But seriously, I have bigger regrets too.

Like not listening to my friends who told me my high school boyfriend was gay (he was), or when I stayed in contact with abusive family members years longer than I should have.

Recently, I saw no fewer than 4 TV shows/movies in a single week that all had plot lines involving the characters forgetting their pasts, either through supernatural, sci fi, or medical circumstances.

And these shows got me thinking about all the past regrets I have and whether I’d erase them from my memory if I could.

How about you?

Erasing Your Mistakes

Who wouldn’t want to wave a magic wand or get hit on the head with a frying pan and wake up with no memory of the terrible things you’ve done or that have happened to you?

This “erasing your mistakes” fantasy is so appealing because many of us fall into the habit of dwelling on our regrets years after the fact. And then we worry that we’re doomed to make the same mistakes in the future.

You might still regret that huge fight you had with your former best friend…but if you could forget that it happened, you’d never be reminded of your faults.

Don’t Repress Your Regrets

If you’re like most people, whenever one of your regrets pops up in your mind, your first instinct is to beat it down. Or distract yourself with a heaping bowl of ice cream. Or jump into bed with the nearest warm body.

Maybe it’s obvious, but avoiding your regrets will come back to bite you in the ass. Trying to forget your past errors won’t make you feel whole again.

[Tweet “If you ignore your regrets, they’ll fester and rot you from the inside out.”]

The Only Cure

Sorry, there’s no mind-controlling vampire or Men In Black memory eraser waiting to wipe out all your regrets.

The only true way to take the sting out of your mistakes is to shine a light on them. Face what has happened—all of the ugly parts of it.

Then show yourself some love and compassion. It might not seem like it at first, but some good did come out of your pain. What did you learn from this experience that you can be grateful for?

For me, being unloved by my biological family made me more loving to the people I meet because I understand how important it is to know that you are wanted.

FYI, I love you and care about you too even though I don’t know you.

Which one of your regrets brings you the most hurt and shame?

Look at it—really look—and find that part that is good and deserving of your compassion. Then forgive yourself. It’s OK.

We all have past hurts. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of.

But we’re human.

And don’t you forget it.

How do you handle your regrets?

In the comments below, share something you regret and what you learned from it.

This post focuses on Step 2 of the Life Editing Process, Delete Bad Influences. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.

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  1. Sarah @ Long Island Nerd on July 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more Sage! I have many regrets in my life but I’d never erase them from my memory because then I would never learn any life lessons. Those mistakes provide the building blocks for future decision making and while they may be painful to think about now it’ll be helpful in the future 🙂

    • Sage Grayson on July 21, 2014 at 9:08 am

      Thanks, Sarah. I like to remind myself that my regrets always have something to teach me.