The start of a new year is filled with mixed emotions. We can feel excited for new beginnings with refreshed goals, and we can feel sad remembering all the things we weren’t able to achieve the past year. While sifting through all the not so good things can be beneficial, we also need to let go of the mistakes and not allow them to hold us back from new accomplishments.
I had a student of mine ask for my advice on how she can move forward from the regret she feels about her divorce. I had her tell me all the reasons why the marriage was unhappy and her reasons for choosing to end it. Her primary one was for the mental wellbeing of her children. She didn’t want her kids to witness her ex-husband’s harsh words and behavior towards her anymore. Although she tried to fix her relationship, it didn’t work out the way she hoped. Now three years later she is still thinking about all the things wrong with her ex-husband and regretting a failed marriage. Her thoughts were not helping her move forward in life. Instead they were preventing her from creating a happier environment for her children, which was the main reason she left the marriage. After a long discussion, my final words to her were to stop focusing on what was wrong with him and instead look at what could she do differently. How can she react to aggravating situations differently? How can she approach conflict differently? The reason she needed to examine her part in the marriage was for her not repeat those same mistakes in future relationships. Even though her ex-husband may not have treated her the way she deserved, it was important for her to look at how she reacted during those tough times. She couldn’t change him but she could change herself.
Looking at the past year instead of just remembering the things that may not have gone the way we hoped, let’s look at what we can change in ourselves to make things better. How can you deal with that irritating co-worker better? How can you disagree with your partner better? How can you handle stressful situations better? How can you love yourself better?
Sometimes we get lost in the abyss of regrets and neglect to see that the power to change things is in our hands. We can’t do anything about yesterday, but we can choose to make today and the days ahead different. Don’t let the guilt of what went wrong in the past keep you from having a happy future.
Every day you are given is a gift, but it’s not one of those gifts you keep to yourself. Your life is meant to be shared with others. Your talents and abilities are meant to shine light on this world and touch the hearts of those around you. As long as you are holding on to past hurt and disappointment, you cannot be the amazing person you were created to be.
Let go of the shame. Let go of the regret. Be grateful for today and live in the hope that tomorrow will be filled with joy and achievement.
Betsy Chacko is a licensed master’s level social worker and currently the director of social services in a healthcare facility. She is an active therapist/counselor and has worked with clients of all ages and backgrounds. She is passionate about helping others and using her abilities to encourage those around her. You can connect with Betsy on Twitter: @betsychacko, follow her blog: faith-undercover.blogspot.com, and send her questions or topics you would like her to discuss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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