Jay Rifenbary

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Regrets - Time to Take Out the Trash

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If there is one area of your emotional thought process that stifles personal and professional development beyond all others, it is to be continually regretful for the perceived and actual mistakes you have made. You cannot change the past, nor is it beneficial to use regrets as excuses for not being the person you can be today. Mistakes are made, dysfunctions are created and insecurities generated, but to be consumed by what wasn’t depletes the very essence of what could be. To acknowledge what you may be regretful for is to also recognize the potential lessons learned from those mistakes made.

Sincere and genuine regret is accepting and taking accountability for behaviors that most likely violated a fundamental core value you believe in. For example, if a core value of yours is loyalty and you breech that loyalty in a relationship or business venture, and the outcome is distrust and failure, say hello to the makings of a regret. If a core value of yours is integrity and you violate the very essence of standing your ground honorably and treating others with dignity and respect, regret will be the outcome.

Regret is defined as, “a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.” How often do we tend to beat ourselves up over the mistakes we have made instead of putting our efforts toward being a better person, parent or professional today? The choice to use yesterday’s failures as today’s excuses is emotionally destructive. Stop hoping for a better past! Constant regret does nothing to neither develop, nor substantiate, a strong character or contribute to a legacy that is positive and enduring. As novelist and poet C. S. Lewis said, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” What do you want to leave behind, or in other words, what would you like to be remembered for? To focus on regrets will never contribute to a positive memory of you from those who love you. Regret is the thief that steals a strong character and a solid sense of self-respect.

Following the core values you believe in, and acting on those values provides you the strength to conquer regret and move forward with the life you know you should lead. Regardless of what others may harbor from the mistakes or decisions you had made, it is your conscious choice to release the burdens of negativity and take control of your life for the betterment of those around you that will lead to personal fulfillment. When your heart is true to the goodness you believe in, and your soul is on a path of purpose; then what was done, or what others may think of you now is irrelevant to the honorable path you have chosen. As Henry David Thoreau stated, “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” To go back is to disavow and devalue your future, and you are too valuable a person to go down that path. You must recognize that there are those who love you, respect you and look up to you; and you owe it to those who see you in that light to set an example of optimism, purpose, servitude and mentorship.

Regrets can educate us in regard to what we wished to have done better, and that is the one beauty of regret. To take accountability for what you regret is a catalyst to be better than what you were, and to learn from the mistakes you made. Renewing, reflecting and reinforcing the core values that form your character are the steps to building a foundation of no regrets. It is the process of putting into practice again and again the values that form that character that will diminish the regrets you may have from yesterday, and lead to a positive and lasting legacy in the future. As Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Say hello to making an effort to forego what wasn’t, and living a life of what can be.



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