Everyone makes mistakes, right? But not everyone gets stuck in regret over those mistakes. Regret drains our energy, calling us always back to the past, where nothing can be done except relive the mistake in our minds, over and over.
What makes some people more resilient than others? The way I see it, the difference between regret and understanding is that regret means we leave a little piece of our soul behind instead of moving on. And we need to get it back in order to get free, firmly set into the present, where we really live. Here are three Storyweaving steps to retrieve your soul.
- Energize your body, here and now. If you’re not strong in the present, you can’t trust yourself not to drown in the past. Depending on who you are, you can recharge in many ways. Eat a healthy, solid meal. Breathe mindfully, visualizing light filling your body until you feel strong. Practice yoga and ground yourself. Dance to your favorite song in your living room. You get the idea. Get into your body, and fill up with joyful, bright energy, as much as you can.
- Now you’re ready to go back into the memory of your regret-filled mistake. (Be bold!) Take your journal, or just a piece of paper, and write down the memory in detail. Let yourself feel what you feel, whatever that might be. This is your story, the one you’ve supercharged to trigger your regret. Write it down, without editing. Then rewrite it in the following ways: first, in one sentence, summarizing the event. Then, rewrite it as if someone you really love was retelling the story. (Alternatively, tell it as a fairy tale! Be creative, just make sure you have three versions by the time you’re done.) Notice the differences. Where does the regret live in these stories?
- Where the regret lives, that’s where you’ve stashed a little piece of your soul for safekeeping. At least it feels safe, paradoxically — being lost in the past makes it easier for us to take fewer risks and be less present in the present. But you and I know, it’s not really safe — it just makes you feel sorry for yourself. So now that you’ve examined that memory, from multiple perspectives, here’s a visualization that will help you take back the spark you’ve stored there:
- Close your eyes, and take three deep, natural breaths. (Relax).
- Imagine the place where the event happened, specifically — but without any people in it, without anything happening, as if it’s an empty room.
- Look around for something — floating light, a special object, anything — that has energy beyond the memory, that shines or catches your eye. That’s your soul-bit.
- Take that energy (by breathing it in) or pick up that object and cradle it as you “return” to your present life. Breathe that energy in, saying, “This was mine, now it is mine again.”
- Open your eyes. How do you feel? You have taken back that piece of yourself you left behind. Over the next few days, you should feel better, and the regret habit will dissipate. (If you don’t, try this soul retrieval again — maybe you need to bring back more of your energy, if the experience was especially traumatic.)
If you need to take action to make your life better, it should be easier now. Remember, now is the time — the only time — we have to act. The past is over; the future is in the making. You have the power, if you claim it.
As I always say to my clients, experiment with these techniques, finding a way to make them your own. And if you need additional support, call a friend, or contact me. You deserve to live free of regret — and you can, learning from mistakes and moving on with compassion and understanding. Step by step, you can step up and love the story of your life — here and now!