The wisdom in the stories of people with near death experiences often speaks of seeing their lives reviewed. They realize what they’ve done well and what they need to change. Many of them live long enough to make it happen. Likewise, we hear of leaders and teams reviewing their efforts, taking the “lessons learned” from the past and making productive changes—thus, staying in business, remaining essential, or in some cases alive. Hearing this, why wouldn’t we want to do the same with our personal lives? And where would we start?
A good place to begin is “letting go of regret.” Commencing this review, processing it from as early as we can remember and ending it where we are now significantly lightens our load of negative baggage. Quite a large number of health professionals speak and publish on this subject; however, some of us may wonder how profoundly they’ve done this work for themselves. Beyond theory, how aware are they of the intimate details of the tasks to be carried out from a first-hand perspective? The road of letting go of regret, perhaps, may not be as frequently traveled as some may think; otherwise, why would they repeatedly confront the same troubling issues they thought they’d let go of long ago? The truth is, it’s the well traveled road that picks up the wisdom along the way that essentially completes this important task.
Looking into the seeing heart, we find that letting go of regret inevitably includes “forgiving ourselves.” No, it isn’t just unshackling ourselves, picking ourselves up, and dusting ourselves off. Disturbing characteristics like denial, pain, blame, and pride come up too. Compassion is also part of the process, for as we feel the softening of our hearts and the release of suffering, we momentarily move into what some would call light, and we might experience something so much more than what we are. It humbles us and sets us free to begin again, especially as we understood that some regrets are difficult, even shameful, and require working on over and over until they soften and fade away.
Just the idea of setting ourselves free from regret includes some real contemplation on what’s involved. For example, what we call moral courage—the will to take on all the negativities that we’ve experienced in life, been responsible for, and developed as far back as childhood. The list may include such things as bullying, stealing, lying, hurting others, killing and more. Each issue requires a good level of concentration, along with the perseverance and dedication to carry it out. We start with the easy and work towards the difficult, building our power and confidence as we move along this path toward freedom. Likewise, knowing how to detoxify ourselves from working with a lot of negativity before we begin again keeps us on track. Ultimately, the wisdom that comes from opening every door in the process, including some that are unexpected, permits us to do a real housecleaning. We learn that it’s best not to leave anything behind, for it might invisibly block our path later on.
In conclusion, looking at the past and letting go of regret is a major milestone in recovering our lives and allowing productive changes that help us and others. Not to be considered lightly, it reduces our load of negativity and that of the people and creatures around us. Once we begin, it becomes easier to do “on the spot” while we go about daily life. We just make the decision to set ourselves free and give ourselves the will to carry it out.