Regrets always produce one thing, depression.
A depressing day is a day goes wasted. Just one depressive thought can sap you of strength and motivation for an entire day.
Most of the time, regret is a product of creative thinking and excessive guilt, rather than a godly remorse. As long as we live, we will have setbacks and missed opportunities; and we will make tons of mistakes along the way. If the way you see things are pessimistic- meaning, you only see a glass half-empty instead of half-full- there will be no shortage of reasons for you to regret.
Regrets for the past
13… But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13
If you look back in life and regret choosing a certain path, or mourn for missed opportunities, just stop thinking that way the moment you catch yourself doing that!
It’s not fair to judge your past self based on the hindsight that you now have.
When you see missed opportunities, it means that you have become more mature, that you have made significant progress in term of insights and competence, and that you are able to achieve much more if you encounter similar situations again.
So the next time you see missed opportunities that you’d failed to see in the past, you should celebrate because it indicates that you have been growing. The more frequent and the sooner you spot missed opportunities that have passed you by, the more it indicates that you are rapidly improving and growing.
A lot of people can’t spot a missed opportunity! This is called unconscious incompetence.
Given abundance time, or the ability to travel back in time, anyone can make things perfect. But in reality, time is limited; it is always in the passing mode; you will lose it whether you use it or not.
The optimal way to live is to balance speed and quality; accept imperfection and just go along and improvise. You will make mistakes, but reality is not going to wait for you to correct every single mistake before you deliver- reality has deadlines!
And don’t spend time mourning for the past, because while you are doing that, opportunities in the present will elude you too, fast!
In my college years, I developed a habit of regrets. I would often mourn for opportunities I missed, and soon developed stress and worries about the future ones as well. Now that I am more wise, I look back and see that while I had intensive worries and stresses, I often failed to see opportunities that were abundance.
For example, I wasn’t good at finding a job in the co-op program (A program that students find a full-time four month job after every four months of study), and I had to quit it. Although I quitted co-op, I still had plenty of time in school that I can start a part-time business- i.e. create my own job- such as blogging! I didn’t need to feel bad about my situation.
Remember, there are always opportunities lying around, you just have to train your eyes to see them.
Regrets for sins
10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
If you’re struggling with certain sins in your life, but are otherwise a solid Christian, then you don’t need to regret.
How do you define solid? As long as you sincerely repent every time you sin, rely on God and walk with Him every day and hour, and is seeking knowledge of Him and doing what you know is the right thing to do (Deu 29:29), you’re solid.
If you keep up this way, in time you will grow out of the sins that you are struggling with, so don’t make things worst by regretting.
Regret is rehearsal. By regretting sin, you’re rehearsing it in your mind, reinforcing the memory. What you think will become what you are; You will get stuck with the sin you regret.
The Bible makes it clear that no one is exempt from sin, but if you confess your sin, you will receive forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9). True repentance leaves no regret! This is God’s promise.
Repent! Regret isn’t repentance. Regret only brings negative emotions and thoughts, but don’t confuse it with genuine repentance and humility.
What about sins that have major consequences?
Forgiveness doesn’t guarantee pardon. Pardon is a remission of the legal consequences of an offense. You can’t expect people to forget and treat you the same as before. You will have to live with consequences of sin, in some cases consequences could last for life.
Sins also produce natural consequences, such as damaged health, financial loss, broken relationship, and dishonor.
All sins have consequences, we have to accept them as reminder of our weakness and to humble ourselves before the Lord.
And, who knows? God might just heal you and remove the consequences of sin.
Conclusions: How do you get over regrets?
Here is the list:
- Be successful now: No need for regret or mid-life crisis. You can have success now if you start meditating on God’s word and obey, because God had promised that we will prosper if we obey His commands and think about His words day and night. (Psalm 1:2-3, Deuteronomy 28:13, John 15:4-7)
- Let God speaks to you: God is the giver of consolations. If you practice spiritual disciplines such as prayer and solitude, in time you will learn how to pay attention to God’s voice, and every time He speaks, He gently reminds and comforts. Although the Lord does rebuke us, He will never do so carelessly like humans do. I tend to have excessive guilt and regrets easily, but instead of forcing myself to be positive, I let God speaks to my heart. Every time I do that, my self-doubts and imaginary guilt will be gone.
- Speed over stall: Most obstacles are psychological rather than real. Regrets breed stalls. You have to realize that it doesn’t take really long to really make real progress in anything, be it skills, academics, careers, relationships, or any other achievements. If the matter you worry about is mainly an issue of competence, please understand that competence can be improved very quickly if you just stop stalling and start taking action.
- Forgive yourselves: If you keep beating yourselves up over past sins and the consequences of sins, you haven’t forgiven yourselves yet. The Lord make it clear that if you don’t others, He will not forgive you (Matthew 18: 21-35). This includes forgiving yourself! If you don’t forgive yourself, the Lord won’t forgive you!
- Repent and Godly Sorrow: Don’t beat yourself up and create worldly sorrow. A Christian is to walk with the Spirit, so he or she should feel guilty only if the Spirit of God rebukes him or her, and bring his or her sins to light. It’s easy to become legalistic and perfectionistic.
- Write Journals: You don’t know what your thoughts are until you write them down. Memory is unreliable; it is a subjective interpretation of what really happened. And the longer time passed, the more easy it is to twist your memory. To prevent imaginative regret, make journal entry regularly so when you doubt yourself in the future, you can always refer to the journal and check what exactly were going on in the past. This help you sympathize with your past.
- Acceptance: Almost 90%+ of the outcomes in life have occurred because of your choices and character. In the future you are likely to repeat the way you have done things in the past anyway, so don’t spend your energy to regret the past, but focus on character growth and learning to make wiser choices now. No matter how imperfect you were, this was you. You have to accept yourself, knowing that you have been trying the best, with the resources and experiences that you had at the times.