“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.”
—D. H. Lawrence
Regret is a universal emotion that is felt by us all. The emotion of regret can be very powerful, and if we let it, regret can take over our lives. There are people who are good at managing their regrets, and there are some of us who are not so great at it.
For a long time, my feelings of regret dominated my life, particularly during stressful and unhappy times. I would lie awake thinking of all the things that I didn’t do, the mistakes I made, and the opportunities I stuffed up.
I would act out scenes in my head, which always began with questions such as, “What if? What if I had said this? What if I had done this?” These regret role-plays could go on for hours, and of course, the opportunity for a good nights sleep was lost. I would wake up tired, with no energy and feel unhappy. This was not a great way to start the day.
The more tired I felt, the unhappier I was about my life. I finally got to a point in my life where I realized that living my life full of regret was causing me immense unhappiness. I didn’t want to live an unhappy life, so I decided to change it.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Finding a way to manage the negative impact of regret in my life was not going to be achieved in a day, a week, or even a month. I decided that I would take one step at a time rather than rush off and look for ways where I would undergo some form of personal transformation in the hope that my regrets would magically disappear.
I knew that my regrets were never going to go away. I just had to get better at managing the negative influence they were having on my life.Advertising
The Psychology of Regret
The first step I decided to take was to educate myself about the emotion of regret. What I learned from reading various articles and books enabled me to better understand and manage my thoughts and feelings around my regrets in life.
Two American psychologists, Neale J. Roese and Mike Morrison, conducted a National Survey on regret. The results from the survey showed that the six biggest regrets that we have in life are based on education, career, romance, parenting, self-improvement, and leisure.
“Regret is an essential part of the human experience—something everybody has as long as they have life goals. Rather than avoid it, it’s better to try to take some insights out of the regret experience.”
—Neal J. Roese Professor of Psychology
This quote by Neale J Roese was for me an “aha moment.” Up until this point, I realized that I was living my life trying to avoid having regrets. Looking back now, I think I had become slightly brainwashed by reading too many “personal development” books, or maybe I just misinterpreted what I was reading about regret.
Somehow I had created a belief where I thought that by having no regrets I would have a happier life. I got it so wrong, and when I read what Neale J Roese said about regret, I realized that regret was actually an important part of my life experience. What I needed to sort out was how to deal with those thoughts and feelings of regret that were having a negative impact on my life.
Opportunity Breeds Regret
The report on the national survey talked about the Opportunity Principle and how our actions or failure to take action around opportunities in our life can create deep feelings of regret.
Another interesting fact about regret is that if an opportunity is denied or never presents itself to you then you are more likely to rationalize these feelings and move on. However, when you fail to take action when the opportunity presents itself to you then, you are more likely to have deeper feelings of regret. It is these regrets that are more likely to keep you awake at night.Advertising
Mark Twain’s quote below sums up really well how your failure to take action can stay with you forever.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
By me committing to take action, I now embrace opportunities. I don’t focus on the outcome of the opportunity. I focus on how I choose to respond to the opportunity. By doing this I started to find that I would spend less time thinking at night about all opportunities that I had failed to take up.
Regret, the Power of Choice and a Good Nights Sleep
All is not lost however when it comes to “lost opportunities” in our life as we all have within us the power of choice. The benefit that lost opportunity and regret offer to us is the opportunity to choose to take corrective action.
Regret actually serves a purpose in our lives as it can remind us of what we need to do differently to move forward in our lives. We can choose to take action and create more positive feelings about our actions. When we do this our feelings of regret diminish, and once again, we are less likely to be kept awake playing out scenarios of regret in our head. We are more likely to be enjoying a good night’s sleep because we chose to take action. That is what makes us happy!!
I realized that for me to have better nights’ sleep, the more courageous I choose to be about stepping out and taking action, the better I felt about myself.
Going to bed feeling happy about myself was a key step for me to take control of the feelings of regret that were keeping me awake at night.Advertising
Regret and Taking Action
Taking action was one key thing that I could do right now that could reduce the negative influence that regret had in my life. If I did this one thing consistently, over and over again, I would be guaranteed to get a good night’s sleep forever. If I keep taking action every time an opportunity presents itself to me and not worry about the outcome, the less likely I am to have thoughts of regret.
Here are three actionable strategies that I implemented in my life that helped me take control of my regrets so that I could consistently get a great night’s sleep
1. Move Onto Future Opportunities
Regrets are part of life, and the only way they can control our lives is if we let them. The more we think about our regrets the more influence they have over us. Dwelling on our regrets immobilizes us, and we eventually become fearful and unhappy about our lives.
Recognize your regrets, acknowledge them, and then leave them. Turn your attention to future opportunities — don’t dwell on the past.
2. Accept That You Cannot Change What Has Been Done
There is a great book I read about regret written by Arthur Freeman called “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Overcoming Regrets, Mistakes, and Missed Opportunities.”
In this book, Arthur Freeman talks about how regret will quickly disappear once we realize that the situation is done and finished. There is no going back, and we can’t change what has happened. The secret to dealing with our regret starts at the moment we decide what we are going to do next. It is our attachment to the past that breeds these feelings of regret, and once we let go of the past, we take more control over our future.
When you are being kept awake at night by your regrets, you are living your life in the past, and you have no control over the past. The more you look toward the future, the more control you have over your life.
When you are lying in your bed at night, the first thing you do is think of one future opportunity that makes you feel good. Do not go to bed if you cannot think of a future opportunity because, trust me, those regrets will come flooding into your thoughts.Advertising
If you are really struggling read Arthur Freeman’s book as he provides lots of tools and strategies on how to unblock your attachment to the past.
3. Make Your Regrets Work for You
Turn your regrets into lessons of learning. Put your regrets into context, acknowledge them, and then use them to motivate you to take more positive action.
This strategy I have used a lot, and it works. I always wanted to be a writer-speaker and coach, but for many years, I did nothing about it. I would lie awake thinking about my failure to take action, which of course meant that I never did anything about it for years. Then my parents died suddenly, and my life was thrown into chaos and pain.
As I went through the process of healing in my life, I realized that my regrets were not serving me well. In fact, they were preventing me from living the life I desired, and I needed to change that. So started writing with no expectation I just started. I didn’t want to live with a regret that I had never given it a go as a writer.
Here I sit today writing this article and so thankful that I took a regret and made it work for me.
I still do have the occasional sleepless night thinking about what I should have done, but my regrets today are not consuming my life. I have consistently more good nights sleep now than I had when my regrets controlled me and kept me awake night after night.
Last Updated on January 16, 2020
12 Simple Ways to Boost Your Confidence Right Now
The way you feel about yourself greatly influences how you live and interact with others. If you are confident about yourself, you tend to see yourself positively and actually enjoy spending time with and around people. You don’t feel self-conscious or awkward around others, and that allows you to live your fullest and happiest life.
However, if you’re drowning in a sea of self-doubt, hesitancy and shyness, you often withdraw and isolate yourself from others and avoid interacting and connecting with people. That anxiety you feel in the pit of your stomach when you are around people is holding you back greatly and it is not good for your emotional health and overall well-being. You need to do something about it if you are low in self-confidence or have friends or family members who are not confident.
“Confidence isn’t walking into a room thinking you’re better than everyone, it’s walking in not having to compare yourself to anyone” – Anonymous
Here are simple, practical tips to boost your confidence right now and make you feel and act your best.
1. Stop labeling yourself as awkward, timid or shy.
When you label yourself as awkward, timid or shy, you sub-consciously tell your mind to act accordingly and psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations. Instead of labeling and entertaining negative self-talk, visualize and affirm yourself as confident and strong. Close your eyes for a minute and visualize yourself in different situation as you would like to be.
Be your own cheerleader. Experts believe that positive affirmation and good mental practices like picturing yourself winning or achieving a goal can lead to greater feelings of self-assurance and prepare your brain for success. As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.” Picture yourself as confident and soon enough you will begin to manifest behavior that gives evidence to this new ‘fact.’
2. Recognize that the world is not focused on you (unless, of course, you are Kanye West).
That means you don’t have to be excessively sensitive about who you are or what you are doing (or not doing). You are not on the center stage; there is no need for preoccupation with self and perfectionism. As rap music star Rocko sings, “You just do you and I will do me, aight?”
Forget about trying to please everyone or being perfect. Trying to be perfect and being a people-pleaser puts too much pressure on you and creates unnecessary anxiety. Besides, people are too preoccupied with their own issues to pay much attention to your every move unless, of course, you are a mega famous, super celebrity like Beyonce or Kanye West.
3. Focus on other people as opposed to yourself.
If you are low on confidence, self-conscious, nervous and shy in social situations, focus your attention on other people and what they are saying or doing instead of focusing on your own awkwardness.
For example, think about what it is that is interesting about the person who’s the centre of the party or the guy or girl you are talking with. Prompt them to talk more about themselves and be genuinely curious and interested in what they say. You will instantly come across as confident and warmhearted.
People generally want to talk about themselves, be heard and understood. They will love it when you’re eager and willing to listen to them and really hear what they have to say.
This habit of focusing more on what you love in others as opposed to what you dislike in yourself will not only help you become more assertive and comfortable in virtually all social situations, but also instantly make you feel great about yourself.
4. Know (and accept) yourself for who you are.
Chinese military general, strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu, author of the internationally acclaimed book The Art of War, said, “Know yourself and you will win all battles.” Even in the battle with lack of confidence, you will need to know yourself to win.
Knowing yourself starts with understanding that people are not all the same, neither are all social situation suitable for everyone. You might not be confident in large gatherings, but you could be bold and confident in one-on-one and small group interactions. We all have our own unique gifts and unique ways of expressing ourselves. Embrace yours!
Introverts, for example, have a quiet confidence that is, unfortunately, often confused for shyness. They are naturally low key and prefer to spend time alone. However, this natural disposition affords them certain unique gifts, such as an ability to listen better than most people and notice things that others don’t.
Your uniqueness is where your strength and advantage lies. You won’t be comfortable and confident in all situations all the time. Albert Einstein said,
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
5. Crack a smile.
If there is one sure way to instantly boost your confidence, it’s cracking a smile. Christine Clapp, a public speaking expert at The George Washington University, says that flashing those pretty, pearly white teeth will immediately make you appear both confident and composed. But, the effect of smiling is not just external. Studies show that smiling can also help nix feelings of stress and pave the way for a happier and more relaxed you.
Not a bad return for something seemingly so trite, wouldn’t you agree?
6. Break a sweat—with exercise.
Working out is another great way to make yourself feel amazing and confident. Science has shown that exercising increases your endorphins, helps reduce stress, tones your muscles and makes you feel happy and confident.
And hey, all you have to do is take a walk a few times a week and you’ll see the benefits. What seems to matter—as far as your confidence goes—is whether you break a sweat, not how strenuous your session is, which is pretty cool. Start working out now.
7. Groom yourself.
This might seem mundane, but it’s amazing how much of a difference a shower and shave can have on your confidence and self-image. And when you spritz on a scent, the boost on confidence and self-esteem is incredible. As it turns out, your favorite fragrance does more than make you smell oh-so-nice.
A study found that a fragrance can inspire confidence in men. Interestingly, the study also found that the more a man likes the fragrance, the more confident he might feel. Another study found that 90% of women feel more confident while wearing a scent than those who go fragrance-free.
8. Dress nicely.
Another one that might seem trite, but it works. If you dress nicely, you’ll instantly feel good about yourself and give your confidence a real boost. That is largely because you’ll feel attractive, presentable and sometimes even successful in nice clothes.
While dressing nicely means something different for everyone, it does not necessarily mean wearing $500 designer outfits. It means wearing clothes that are clean, that you are comfortable in and that are nice-looking and presentable, including casual clothes.
9. Do activities you enjoy.
Whether it is reading a book, playing a musical instrument, riding your bicycle or going fishing, do what you really enjoy and what makes you truly happy often. It will boost your self-esteem, soothe your ego and allow you to identify with your gifts and talents. That will in turn bolster your self-belief and grow your confidence exponentially.
You might not become popular for doing what you love, but you might not even want to be popular at all. Being popular doesn’t make you happy; doing what you love does.
10. Prepare for the possibility of rejection / setback.
Late World No. 1 professional tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation.” You need to prepare for the possibility of rejection and setback.
Everybody suffers rejection and setback at one point or another. You are not exempted. The question on your mind, therefore, should not be if you will be rejected, but how you will handle rejection when it comes.
Prepare yourself adequately in every situation to minimize the risk and effect of rejection and so that your confidence is not broken. For example, learn public speaking and rehearse what you are going to say beforehand if you have landed a public speaking engagement. That way, you are sure of yourself and confident you have what it takes to hack it. If you are rejected, don’t take it personally.
Rejection and setbacks happen to the best of us. Take it as a learning experience. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
11. Face uncomfortable situations square in the face.
Don’t run away from uncomfortable situations. Running away from people or situations because you feel scared, shy or timid only confirms and reinforces your shyness. Instead, face the situation that makes you uneasy square in the face. For example, go ahead and talk to that person you are afraid to approach, or go straight to the front of your yoga class! What’s the worst that can happen?
Prepare and be ready for any eventuality. The more you face your fears, the more you realize you are stronger than you thought and the more confident you get. This simple, yet admittedly courageous, act makes you unstoppable. You get comfortable being uncomfortable and begin to feel like you can take on the world. And that is the hallmark of someone destined for great things.
12. Sit up straight and walk tall—you are awesome!
Yes, sit up straight and believe you are awesome. Don’t slump in your chair or slouch your shoulders. Experts say the right stance can not only keep your self-esteem and mood lifted, but also lead to more confidence in your own thoughts.
The way to sit is to open up your chest and keep your head level so that you look and feel poised and assured. And when you get up, stand tall and walk like you’re on a mission. People who sit up straight and walk tall are more attractive and instantly feel more confident. Try it now: you’ll feel fierce and confident just by sitting up straight and walking tall.
Featured photo credit: Freshh Connection via unsplash.com
|||^||Psychology Today: Seeing Is Believing: The Power of Visualization|
|||^||Association of Psychological Science: Grin and Bear It! Smiling Facilitates Stress Recovery|
|||^||Science Daily: Want a better work-life balance? Exercise, study finds|
|||^||The New York Times: The Right Stance Can Be Reassuring|