When we look back on our lives and remember our mistakes, it is easy to be overcome with regret. Sometimes just reading an inspirational story about someone else can fill us with regret. We feel that we wasted so much time. We could have done so much. We could have been so much.
Feeling regret results from believing:
- Mistakes are costly and cause permanent damage
- Pain and injury are always negative and reduce our potential
Our beliefs drive our decisions and actions and thus determine our future. Regret is a belief that our potential for success and happiness has been permanently reduced. Beliefs are self-fulfilling. Regret is not only a waste of precious time (we cannot change the past); regret reinforces beliefs that limit us. Regret is thus twice damaging.
We eliminate a belief by replacing it with a new one. Every time I notice myself caught in regret, I note the self limiting belief, and I re-frame it. I made this a habit (read how here). Regret is the cue, re-frame is the action, and feeling positive and happy about my past and future potential is the reward.
For example, I have recently read books by Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Sam Walton, and John D. Rockefeller. These guys had Dynamic Minds at a very early age, and by the time they were my age, they were already unbelievable success tycoons. Why did I spend so much time trapped in beliefs that made me miserable and powerless when I could have been doing so much? It is easy to believe that I will never reach their standard.
Here is my re-frame: I did not waste time; I learned valuable lessons. Whatever it takes, no matter how much time or how much pain, it was worth it to learn what I know now. The higher the price, the more we cherish the prize. Indeed that is what drives me to write these articles and share these ideas with you. It is never too late to be wildly successful because it is never too late to change our beliefs and thus change who we are. Colonel Sanders achieved wild success with Kentucky Fried Chicken only after he was 65 years old!
Sometimes the regret is not about a mistake we have made but an unfortunate event that happened to us and caused great injury and pain. Viktor Frankl survived three years in Nazi concentration camps. He lost all of his possessions. He was separated from his wife, mother, and brother who would all die in the Nazi camps. In Man’s Search for Meaning, he explains the key to his survival was giving his pain meaning:
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning”
Frankl survived and his suffering inspired him to write. His ideas (although extremely heavy at times) have greatly influenced me and have inspired countless others.
Re-frame pain as a gift. If you have suffered, someone else has suffered in the same way. Let pain drive you to find an answer to your suffering. If your suffering is great enough, let the passion drive you to make a difference for everyone that has experienced this pain. Sean Stephenson’s entire life is a beautiful example of this. I highly recommend all of his work. His ideas have influenced me tremendously and are reflected throughout these articles.
WARNING! Sean’s life and accomplishments absolutely annihilate all excuses. Your favorite excuse that you have cherished your entire life will not survive Sean Stephenson. Consider yourself warned!
Live fearlessly with no regret. Use regret as a cue to re-frame “mistakes” as valuable lessons learned. Re-frame regret over injury and pain you have suffered with a passion to make a difference for others. You may just discover your purpose, passion, and path to happiness in your pain. Wild financial success and happiness result as side effects of making a massive difference for others.
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