They say a life without regrets is a life half lived. But when the regret starts to take over, you might want to take a look at how it is affecting your life.
Talk to any group of women and you will find many regrets among them, including disappointment at career choices, past relationships or regrets involving their children.
But is this tendency to beat ourselves up about things really healthy? Can we learn from trying to better our future rather then living in the past?
We talk to Life Coach Louise Nevin, based at Oscailt Integrative Health and Therapy Centre, Dublin, whose job is to help people create an action plan, so they can achieve success on their own terms.
“Anything from relationship, health, career, financial and parenting regrets can dominate our daily thoughts and drain us of energy,” says Louise.
“Worrying and thinking about the past is a common issue for women who can lack self-confidence in their abilities, which can lead to self-doubt, anxiety and fear of failure.”
And while you might think you’re the only one – you can’t throw a shoe in celeb-ville without hitting a celebrity who wishes they had done things different.
Even legend and singer Cher, 64, who had her first child Chastity at 23, has regrets about how she raised her children.
“I have a lot of regrets about my parenting. Maybe I should have had children when I was older,” says Cher.
“I have been a good mother in fits and starts. But when you do work like mine, and I’m like most working mothers – they never feel like they’re doing a good job because they’re never able to devote enough time.”
Similarly, Sex in the City’s Sarah Jessica Parker has regrets regarding her recent children’s birth and recently spoke of how work interferes with her new family life.
“It’s been amazing but complicated because of my current work schedule, which I have enormous regrets about.”
Louise advises that focusing only on what you could have, should have and would have done ensures you stay stuck in the past and possibly miss out on future opportunities.
“Do you want to re-live sadness, annoyance, embarrassment, shame and guilt over and over again?” asks Louise.
“Instead, focus your thoughts on what you can do to improve on past decisions, learn from your mistakes and move on.”
“I encourage clients to step outside their comfort zone and change those habits that are having a negative impact on their lives.”
So how can we do this?
“Developing creative ways of dealing with new challenges,” says Louise.
“Every day I speak to people about what holds them back from achieving the success they want and deserve and the reason I hear most often is, fear,” says Louise.
“Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of hearing no and, yes, even fear of success! “Focus on reaching the life and career success and happiness you deserve – not on your fear of failure.”
And as the saying goes, it’s better to regret something you have done then something you haven’t.
“It can be difficult to appreciate the good things in life such as a supportive family, good health and a cosy home when you’re full of regret,” says Louise.
“To achieve success in life and career you must learn from your past, but not dwell on it. Take note of any negative patterns in your behaviour that could be tweaked and move forward with the new knowledge you have gained.”
And Louise has some tips to effectively dealing with your regret.
“Keep a journal and express how you feel about the regret. This is a good habit to develop to help solve your worry issues.
“Make a list of all possible outcomes of a decision you are about to make. Write down all the pros and cons and prioritise in order of most important.
“Create your life and career vision. Identify your values, develop your short and long term goals, establish what matters most to you, what brings you joy in life and create an action plan to work towards making this vision a reality.
“When we honour our values life is good but working against our life vision can cause worry and regret!”