Moving on after divorce isn’t easy. I know that firsthand. But there’s one word that really, really, really slows down the process: regret.
“I never should have taken that job in California and moved her away from her family.”
“My family warned me not to marry her. I should have listened.”
“I should have divorced him 10 years ago. I would have been a decade younger and had so much more time to be happy.”
“I should have worked harder at the marriage.”
“I never should have said those things to him.”
“Should have” are two words I hate, and the above are just some of the things someone getting divorced might say. These are regrets, feelings of sadness, disappointment, feelings of sorrow for something they did, or feelings of remorse, shame or guilt.
Everyone in life has regrets, not just about divorce, but about everything. I have regrets that I think cost me millions of dollars. I have regrets about things I didn’t do, places I never visited, people I didn’t stay in touch with. I have too many regrets to count. And of course, I have regrets when it comes to pretty much every romantic relationship I have ever been in. Who doesn’t?
Having regrets is part of life. It’s really the way we learn for the future, to live in a way that is better for us and a way that makes us happier.
I think it’s OK to have regrets, to think about them and to verbalize them. BUT, there comes a time when regrets need to be put to rest, not focused upon and pushed out of that space in your head that can choose to hold positive or negative thoughts.
Think about it. What good can come from constantly thinking about your regrets?
It is impossible to undo what you did in the past, isn’t it? So, all you can do is learn from it and become a wiser, healthier and a better overall person.
Our regrets are the drivers that make us smarter and smarter as we grow older.
With all that said, here is your divorce makeover. Put your regrets aside and replace that space in your head with TODAY. Rejoice and celebrate what you have NOW.
For example, one day last week, it was 85 degrees and sunny in Chicago. I worked in the morning. I then worked out, and then took a walk on a beautiful trail. I then played tennis with my daughter. I was then off to work again, but at night, I had a wonderfully romantic dinner with someone I really enjoy.
My point is, I didn’t spent the day thinking about the fact that I had to work for a lot of it, and that if I’d stayed in my pharmaceutical job all these years (and not quit after I had kids) I’d probably be a multi-millionaire right now, getting ready to retire and never working on the weekends. I also didn’t focus on the fact that had I married the right person, I might have been on a blissful family vacation last week.
Instead, I rejoiced in the moment all day long, from the workout where I appreciated my health and body, to the gorgeous walking trail with the sun shining brightly on my face, to the visible joy and pride my daughter gets from playing tennis, and later that night, the bliss of romance.
Gratitude, contentment and celebration should be what replaces those awful feelings of regret that don’t mean anything anymore, except for the fact that we gain valuable lessons from them.
It’s interesting. Those bitter people who can’t let go of the hatred and resentment for their ex: They haven’t let go of their regrets. Divorced people who end up happy embrace now and the future. They enjoy TODAY. The beauty is, the choice is yours.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially” for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.
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