Less Regrets, More Learning To Let Go

Sam Burriss

‘No regrets.’ You’ve heard that phrase, probably a million times. Maybe you try to live your life like that, never seeing the negative side of anything. Maybe you struggle with that phrase because you’ve made some poor decisions and don’t quite know how to move past them. Maybe you’re wondering if you really can live without looking back at your life and wishing you could have done something differently.

Is it possible to really live with no regrets?

I think it all depends on your mindset. When you look at the person you are today, could you have become that person without making mistakes? Without falling down? Without getting hurt? Maybe you like where you are right now—that’s a good feeling, isn’t it? But wouldn’t it be true to say you’re here because of the decisions you made, because of what you pushed through, because of the choices, the persistence, and maybe a little fate?

Or maybe you don’t like where you are right now—do you believe you’re stuck forever? Because you’re not, you know. And even if you’re looking at the ground where you’re standing, wishing you could be anywhere or anything else, living a life of remorse isn’t going to bring you where you want. Looking at the negative won’t give you positive. Being unhappy won’t create a change.

So maybe it is possible to live a life with less regrets.

Because when you’re constantly wishing you could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, you’re not giving yourself a chance to live.

You’re continually looking behind you instead of ahead, preparing for what’s to come. You’re not allowing for change and chance and circumstance to take control of your life and bring you where you’re meant to be. You’re beating yourself up over the hundreds of teeny tiny things you can’t change. And that’s not living.

Here’s the thing—what’s done is done, good or bad. But this doesn’t have to be the end of the world. You don’t have to spend your days longing to press rewind, hating yourself for every mistake, regretting every move and decision that lead you to where you are.

Where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Remember this when you think of all the things that haven’t gone right, all the ways you’ve messed up or fallen short.

All those ‘mistakes’ and wrong turns lead you to this place, this moment, this exact second. And maybe instead of praying to be somewhere else, you should embrace where you are and the lessons you’re learning. Maybe you should let life play out how it’s meant to, give nature a chance to take its course, make its move.

Maybe you should stop trying to desperately to keep life under your control. Because guess what? You’re not really in control. You can make decisions, you can try to change what’s happening, you can shift and bend and mold and attempt to keep life headed in the direction you want, but ultimately, the world might have other plans. And it’s better to accept this than fight fruitlessly.

Maybe you should learn to let go. To stop trying to hold onto what you can’t keep. To stop reaching backwards, flailing your arms about, looking for something, anything, to grab. Maybe you should let life happen, let lessons be learned, let people leave, let your heart break and reshape, let your hurt manifest then heal, let your biggest dreams get crushed so you can start to pursue new ones.

I know it’s hard to see right now, but there’s a reason for what we go through. Pain always has a purpose, sometimes it’s just hard to see when we’re in the thick of it.

But looking back and wishing you could have done something different, said something else, been a stronger person—that does nothing to help where you are right now.

You cannot change the past, but what you can change is the present—who and where you are right now.

So instead of having remorse for your every action, instead of hating yourself, instead of letting the negativity swallow you whole, choose to live a life of less regrets. Choose to accept where you are and how you got there. Choose to change what you can—what’s coming—instead of looking back. Choose to focus on the positive, on the purpose, on the way you are continually becoming, even through pain and mistakes and hard times.

Choose to let go.
Choose to let life happen.
Choose to begin again. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa Donnelly is a poet and author of the book, Somewhere on a Highway, available here.

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

Keep up with Marisa on Instagram, Twitter, Amazon and marisadonnelly.com

More From Thought Catalog