We’ve been playing a bit of a mind game these last few weeks which we thought you might want to join in on.

The rules of the game are simple:

  1. Catch yourself beginning a sentence with “I should have…” and stop yourself in your tracks;
  2. Decide whether the regret is constructive or not…
    1. If it’s about something that is beyond your control (externally attributed), then realise that harping on about it isn’t going to solve anything and only leads to more suffering. Abort the sentence;
    2. If it’s about something that you did have control over, then research shows that regret can actually have a positive influence in making sense of the world, avoiding future behaviors, gaining insight, achieving social harmony, and improving approach. Move to step 3;
  3. Continue sentence, with caution;
    Caution is required because what happens next determines whether the conversation in your head (or out loud) successfully ends here or becomes a running commentary (almost like a broken record player) for the next few hours/days/weeks. Studies show that the fastest way of letting go of past disappointments, embarrassments and failures is to accept your flaws and be kind to yourself. Self-compassion leads to greater self-forgiveness, personal improvement, and self-acceptance. Interestingly enough, this strategy far exceeds that of boosting your self-esteem by focusing on your positive qualities. Be especially aware of the type of regret for an action not taken as it has the potential to drag you into a bottomless pit of ‘should haves, could haves, and would haves’. So, be compassionate, learn whatever lesson you can, and move on!

Winner’s tip: Keep in mind that habits take time to adjust so don’t be too hard on yourself when you end up in that pit! Just dust yourself off and play on 🙂 Let us know how you go!