How do you deal with regret?

by sonnyboy 14 Replies latest jw friends

  • sonnyboy

    I'm wondering if anyone here has devised good techniques for handling regret.

    I've been thinking about high school a lot lately, and "what could have been" is eating away at me. I still had the dub mentality, and I didn't really associate with many people. I was constantly called a 'snob' because I kept to myself, and I had people asking me to do things after school all the time, people who could have been life-long friends. I always turned them down with some lame excuse. I didn't go to any dances, neither prom, or partcipate in any extracurricular activities. I feel like I missed out on so much of my youth, and I think I'm still suffering the consequences. I only have one good friend now outside of work aside from my brother's friends who stop by now and then.

    I suppose this question is a slight tangent but would still be on the topic of regret: How do you 'get rid' of embarrassing moments? Whenever I'm nervous or in an uncomfortable situation I often say the most embarrassing, inappropriate thing imaginable, and these moments still haunt me. I still get flustered when I think of embarrassing or inappropriate things I did as a child, like slamming the door in my mother's face at around 4 when she asked me what I wanted for dinner, 'playfully' calling one of my black friends at school a nigger (I didn't mean to do it, but we were big fans of black comedy [Richard & Eddie] and it slipped out. She started crying and never spoke to me again), throwing a nickel down a girls throat during lunch and being balled out by the teacher in front of the class (again, it was an accident), having the principal in junior high stand me on the stage in the cafeteria and ask if one of the girls would go out with me, etc. Then when I was around 19 I was going through a serious bout of depression and acted like a total jackass at work, throwing stuff around and yelling at people for no reason at all. The list goes on.

    I don't know how to get these moments of regret out of my head. Every time I think of them I cringe and wish the memories weren't there.

  • Apathy

    Ignore it, is what I do. Don't dwell on that stuff.

    As for the regrets.. yeah, I hear you. I'm currently living out 'the best years of my life' in semi-lockdown. So uhm.. just be glad you're not a dub now?

  • Frannie Banannie
    Frannie Banannie

    Sonnyboy, the teachers were the real jackasses in your life. I don't know of many young people who don't have serious moments of inappropriate behavior. Don't allow yourself to be a future victim of your past. Just simply resolve to make amends at the next reunion and tell those who proferred friendship to you how awkward and shy you were as a teen and explain things to them. How you feel about it now. Betcha you revive lotsa formerly-proferred friendships.


  • Been there
    Been there

    It's hard when things get stuck in your brain.

    I find this helpful.

    Make a list of your regrets. I find alot of times writing things down get them out of your head. If you can sincerely appologize to any of the people, do so. If the people can't be reached you can write down what you did to hurt them. Say why you are sorry and maybe how you would have handled the situation now that you are older and wiser, put it in an envelope, seal it and put it away in a box labeled "regrets". Someday you will find that you forgive yourself and will be able to get rid of your box of envelopes, burning them is usually cleansing.

    Don't be too hard on yourself for your younger years, that is why it is called growing up. You are growing in the right direction when you recognize you have caused pain. Repair damage if you can, forgive yourself if you can't and know you are a better person from here on out.

    It may also help to know that what was earth stopping to you...............noone else remembers. What would you tell someone who did the samething you did to regret? Tell it to yourself. I think you will find that you would be much more lienient (sp) to them then you are yourself.

    You will be fine.

    (edited to add) Frannie said in one paragraph what took me 5. Yah what she said exactly.

  • The Chuckler
    The Chuckler


    I know exactly what you are going thru'. It has always been a big problem for me in my life. There are times where I gringe with regret when I remember some things I've done. At times, it can be all consuming. One bad memory leads to another, leads to a feeling of empty regret and worthlessness, then to a depressive episode.

    Some things which help me :

    Being brought up a JW gave me a skewed view of the world. It retarded me socially and emotionally. It also put me on a perpetual guilt trip. Acting irrationally, stupidly and unkindly were to be expected and all part of the learning curve to becoming a 'normal' human being. If you hadn't had done them you would not be the person you are today. The fact that they are so regrettable proves how far you've come.

    After leaving the JWs at aged 18 I was on my own emotionally. There was no family support for my actions, no one to go to for help, so I was finding my own borders. You have to cross borders to know where your own are. Plus even people with normal upbringings have difficulty with this time of their lives. I worked at a restaurant when I was 17. The boss organised a staff party, JWs and non JWs. It started at 6pm. I was drinking the cooking brandy slyly and was mangled by 7pm. My parents were called to pick me up because I was so drunk. I acted like an ass and was made to feel really guilty - not because I made a fool of myself, but because I gave a bad witness. Skewed logic.

    I always try to be positive. Look to the causes of your actions and figure out why the reasons why they were right at the time. Were your reasons correct but you unable to express yourself to get heard? Were violent actions the only way to get heard? I suffered with a lack of empathy. I'd barge into partners lives, take whatever I wanted and dump them, moving on to the next woman and it would happen again. No empathy had ever been shown to me by family or the congregation, no one really cared, so I never did, not thru choice, but it never occurred to me I was doing anything wrong.

    You also cannot change the past. You are the sum product of your history, good or bad.

    Try and dwell on successes. What is the best ever moment of your life? Try to relive it, feel your emotions, the physical sensations when it was taking place and how you felt afterward.

    Memory is a deceptive tool. One persons memory of a situation is totally different to someone else's. I remember a wedding where cousins were arguing about what happened 40 years ago when they were kids. To hear them you wouldn't believe it was the same incident. Your brain corrupts the memory. You put a 'regrettable tag' on a memory and you it will intensify every time you remember it. Feeling bad about something that other people have forgotten about or didn't think was that bad to begin with is pointless.

    I hope this helps.


    PS I'm going to regret this post aren't I? - :-))

  • sonnyboy

    Thanks for the advice.

    I often wonder what was or was not considered significant to others. The girl that I called the 'N' word may still be suffering to this day, feeling betrayed. Another incident of race happened in high school. I was taking driver's ed with an African American student and the driver instructor and I had just dropped her off at home. On the way to my house, there was a car stopped in the middle of the street and people were talking. The instructor said, "These God damned n****** think they own the road!". The next day I told Tiffany what he had said, and she didn't want to continue with the class. Why did I say anything?

    During our senior year, I overheard Tiffany discussing race with another African American girl in hostory class (who was also a JW by the way), and she was telling the girl how she can't stand white people. When I asked her why, she snapped, "I can talk about you all any time I want! You'll be nice to my face and call me a nigger behind my back."

    I can't help but think that my telling her what this "nice" instructor had said (he was always praising her to her face, calling her darling) had something to do with her feelings on race. I don't think in a million years she thought he'd say something like that in a malicious way and mean it, but he did. I should have told her not all white people are like that, because that's probably what she now believes. Why didn't I say something? Anything? My big mouth was most likely responsible.

    Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. Mr. Insomnia has kept me up all night and I need to hit the sack.

  • blondie

    All you can do is be different today and make amends (apologize sincerely) to those you have hurt if possible. Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 steps of AA.

    8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

    9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    The past is history, the future is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why we call it 'the present.'

    Love, Blondie

  • Ellie

    I wouldn't dwell on these moments if I were you, everyone makes mistakes and everyone has regrets, some more serious than others, just try to forget them, after all theres not much you can do about them now is there.

  • Uzzah

    You are only human. We all screw up regularly throughout our lives ESPECIALLY as kids and teenagers.
    It sounds mostly like you need to forgive yourself. That's an awful lot of guilt to be carrying around. You will never lose all regrets but being realistic, can you change what happened back then? Are you still making that same exact mistake? No? then give yourself some slack.


  • under74

    SB- like others have said--don't dwell on it. We all have done things as a kids that make us cringe now. We were kids and we are today the people we are because of the experiences we went through and even the mistakes that make us cringe when we remember them.

    keep your chin up and laugh as much as possible.

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