There is a reason that regret is so powerful. It exists so that we feel compelled not to make the same mistake twice. But the truth is you have to use the power of regret to learn from that mistake and make your new knowledge something that makes you stronger. Hanging onto the regret too long can drain you in ways that you could never imagine it doing.
Some people will say you should always ask God for forgiveness. This is to admit that we are imperfect and that we need God to forgive our sins before we move on with our lives. In some ways, that’s a really good way to be, answering to a higher power for your misdeeds. Of course, there are those that abuse this “privilege.” They go and keep making similar or even the same mistakes because they know they’ll always be “forgiven.” I hate when people use religious beliefs to cover their indemnities – word of the day! (For those that don’t know what indemnities are: “security against or exemption from legal responsibility for one's actions.”)
Certainly, the most important thing whenever we make a mistake that we regret is to learn self-forgiveness. Yes, we are imperfect. Asking God for forgiveness seems a hell of a lot easier than trying to find the strength within ourselves to forgive our own stupidity. Most people don’t want to accept their own imperfection. It’s sort of an innate human desire to be perfect.
But we have to learn we can only chase perfection, not fully achieve it. There is a bit of humility involved, of course, in order to truly learn self-forgiveness. You can ask God or whoever for all the forgiveness you want. But if you don’t forgive yourself, that regret that builds only weighs you down.
What if you make a mistake and don’t regret it? That's fine if you’ve learned to already forgive yourself for the error and moved on with the new knowledge. But I’ve learned people tend to regret more than they like to admit. I sure as hell know that. I walk around with far more regret on my heart and mind than I really should, and often about things I simply couldn’t change now. You can’t hold onto the past as a crutch. Hell, I regret ever using past events as excuses for anything. Regret often leads to more regret. You don’t want that everlasting cycle to continue.
But if you do something truly wrong and awful and you don’t feel regret, there’s also perhaps a major problem. Some people simply do not recognize the mistakes that they make – which is why self-reflection is so important. Self-forgiveness is perhaps the most important thing to master before trying to improve any other part of yourself. If regret is weighing you down and there are just certain things you can’t forgive yourself for, you have to learn to get over these feelings. You can’t have regret weighing you down. Trust me, it’s far harder than they like to say.
Living without regret is actually nigh near impossible for a lot of people. I like to say that you live in spite of your regret. The emotion is there for a reason, as a reminder not to make some mistake again. But you should also express that regret in order for others to learn from your mistakes and perhaps avoid that sort of regret altogether.
Believe me, just releasing and expressing that regret does a lot to heal you in ways you never could have imagined. If you learn to forgive yourself for your imperfections, you will thank yourself for it far sooner than you might think. It will be like great weight has been lifted from your shoulders and you can proceed a lot more normally.
So the next time you make a mistake, if you want to ask God for forgiveness, sure, go right ahead. But you also have to forgive yourself and use it as a learning experience, and not let it form into a chain of guilt. There is too much to be gained from life to let a few little imperfections weigh you down. Just make sure you learn from your mistakes. A lot of people never do, but I think if we just learn a little self-forgiveness, we’ll all be a hell of a lot happier.