Let It Go! 4 Steps I Took To Live Regret Free.

4 Steps I Took To Live Free Of Regret.

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future.” Fulton Oursler

We all have regrets in life.  We regret not accomplishing certain goals or not taking a certain risk.  We regret the decisions we’ve made or the people we may have become involved with.  The bad advice we followed and the good advice we ignored.   Finances, relationships, parenting, careers, we all have things we regret.  However, constantly living in the past and dwelling on the things you have, or haven’t, done can and will stop you from living a satisfied life.

I’ve made a decision that I will not live my life constantly looking backward and living with regret.  The mistakes I’ve made, the failed relationships, all of these are lessons learned, not to be repeated. I can honestly say I regret nothing about my life.  I will play the cards I’ve been dealt and I will play them well without remorse or comparison.  Below are a few steps I took to reach this mindset of freedom.

Empty Your Slop Bucket.

When I was younger, my family would take semi-annual trips to Kosciusko, a small town in the middle of the Mississippi.  My grandfather lived in an old house with no running water, heat, or AC.   In the kitchen, he had a bucket in the corner where he would throw scraps of food in.  Mostly garbage like moldy bread, old milk, pieces of fat from pork, it was sickening. He called it a “Slop Bucket”.   Every day he would take this slop bucket out and feed it to his pack of hunting dogs. I watched as they fought each other over this stuff.  It was enough to make me almost vomit, but yet oddly fascinating at the same time.

When we refuse to let go of regret we are in essence carrying around an emotional slop bucket.  Things we should have thrown out years ago, but continue to carry with us.  I bucket filled with leftover feelings and emotions from bad relationships.  Pieces from old conflicts and disagreements. A bucket overflowing with the slop of the past.  The mire of yesteryear.

Unfortunately, many people will their overflowing bucket of slop and dump all this negativity onto those we love. We take a current problem and dump all that negativity on our children or spouse, our friends.  We take all that crap from the past and slop up the present.  It’s time to empty out your bucket before it overflows.  Whether that means seeing a counselor, talking to your pastor, or taking it to God. Either way, dump it out.

Learn How to Forgive.

Sometimes the best way to deal with resentment is to take the initiative and forgive.  This means you may have to forgive the person that has wronged you whether they asked for it or not. We have been taught that we don’t have to forgive people that never asked for it.  We wait for people to make things right with us before we decide to forgive them and this only hardens our hearts when that request never happens. It’s really just a weak attempt to justify the hate we have for them whether we want to admit it or not.  Forgive them and move on.  I mean really forgive them, not this faux forgiveness where you do so out of pride and say “I forgave you because you aren’t worth my time” type of stuff because the anger is obviously still there.  Forgive them and most importantly forgive yourself.

1 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing."

Yes, I know it can be hard to forgive. But ask yourself is forgiving and letting go harder that holding the grudge and harboring ill will for years? I use to be the person that held grudges for years, unable to just forgive and just let it go.   Some of these people I haven’t seen for years, why am I still focused of these wrongs.  Unfortunately, there are some people I see every weekend who has definitely tried to slander me and try my patience. But I don’t let these people affect my everyday mood nor do I hold resentment towards them for the things they have said about me in the past.  Their negativity and pugnaciousness say more about them than it does me so why hold a grudge.

Choose to Forget the Past.

I am not saying you can literally forget the past. But you can have a change of attitude about your past.  I know you can never truly forget the decisions you’ve made or the ways people have wronged you.  What you can do however is train yourself to no longer nurture those feelings of resentment caused by the pain you felt when these things happened.

Related Post: How Holding On To The Past Prevented Me From Having A Successful Future.

Think of it like looking at a scar on your body. That scar was once an open wound and I’m sure it was painful. But it’s just a scar now and you no longer feel the pain.  You probably rarely even think about it because you can’t feel it. You can do the same with the pain from your past.  I realized that when I stopped focusing on the pain of my past the wounds eventually healed and I was able to easily move on.  I used to live in the past, I now leave it where it belongs and forget it.

Psalm 34:4-5  “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”

 

Turn Your Pain into Strength

Now I am aware that some things are too big to forget.  You can be involved in an accident where you become paralyzed, or you can become seriously ill.  You can get mad at the person driving the other car, you can get mad at life or even God.  But does staying angry help you deal with the pain?

I have seen people who have been dealt a bad hand in life turn their pain into strength.  They have turned their struggle into a source of inspiration for many people.  Think of how many non-profits organizations have come into existence because someone didn’t allow resentment to paralyze them.  They saw a need and decided to help others going through the same thing they themselves have gone through.  By being transparent and placing your hurts and abuses of the past next to the pain and abuse someone else is currently dealing with, you can help draw out the pain they’re feeling thus helping them move on.

As I stated before, I no longer live with regret from the past. I’ve emptied my slop bucket and forgave even when forgiveness wasn’t requested.  Life is too short to live with the regrets of the past. Accept them as lessons learned, correct those mistakes if you must, heal broken relationships, and determine to live free.


Terrell Cotton

 

Terrell Cotton is a motivational blogger and a full-time single father of two boys who are his heart and soul.  His blog, Terrellcotton.com, is dedicated to helping men become better versions of themselves by building upon authentic manhood, fatherhood, faith, and entrepreneurship.

 

 

 


 

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