Many parents come to me with regrets about their parenting whether that be yelling at their child, responding in a way they wish was different when their child came out, handling a child’s negative behavior or a million of the other things they have faced while interacting with them.
What if I told you regret was useless? That you could live without it and choose something different?
It’s actually true.
Regret is a feeling, a vibration you feel in your body as the result of a thought you are having. Since all thoughts are optional, you could choose a totally different experience.
Yet after knowing this, so many of us continue to hang on, telling ourselves we deserve to have this feeling or that we will continue to make mistakes unless we punish ourselves for it.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Think about it. All of the actions you take in life are because of a feeling. If you are choosing to feel regret, you are also choosing to act from regret. Parenting from past regret does not make you a better parent. In fact in actually decreases your capacity to be resourceful and make the impact you desire. Feelings of curiosity, determination, and love are far more likely to get you to the outcome you are trying to achieve. So why continue to choose regret?
Here’s an example from my own life.
When my child asked me to help him obtain and try out a binder, I reacted strongly and stated, “No way! Binding is unsafe. You’ll hurt yourself and I’m not open to it until you finish growing.” Even after my child provided research, I refused to budge. Then I proceeded to use the binder as a point in time for him to earn his way to. Not cool. Not cool at all. I held my child back from experiencing less anxiety, dysphoria and didn’t come from a place of openness and love, Once I realized this, I felt great regret.
And I kept feeling regret. Even knowing I could let it go and move on, I felt the need to punish myself for my choice, my words and my inaction. I never stopped to consider that continuing to live in this did not make me a more supportive parent but in fact a more droopy, ineffective one. Living in the past was not helping me create a better version of myself or my parenting in the present or future. And I sure couldn’t change the past.
Until one day I realized I had to let it go if I wanted to be a better parent. I could choose a different experience of the event and recognize that I am a human, a human that make mistakes in order to grow.
Regret is not useful or responsible. It does not make us better humans. It does not right the actions of the past or make life better for us or anyone else around us.
Feeling regret does not keep us from making future mistakes. And we can choose not to live in it.
So let’s commit to regret proofing our life, living it to the fullest, owning our failures and moving on to a better version of ourselves.