Figure skating has always been one of my favorite sports, and although I loved it, I made the conscious decision to quit. In retrospect, I really shouldn’t have done so, but it seemed like the best decision for me at the time. Watching the 2018 Olympic Games brought memories of my time on the ice and wondering what if.
Although making the decision to quit was something that I made of my own volition, I have regretted not choosing to take up the sport again. I have made excuses for myself, but nothing can take away the pain of my conscious choice, which is entirely my responsibility.
Overcoming the pain of regret and coming to terms with a decision that I made as a child for reasons I can’t really fathom now has not been an easy road. I am still learning to come to terms with it, but it has been getting slightly easier over time.
Here is what has helped me thus far in learning to overcome regret:
1. Using that regret as motivation for my current endeavors.
Although I never got to compete for an Olympic medal, the regret that I feel after making the decision to quit the sport has motivated me to do my best in everything I do. Right now, that means doing my best to become the best English teacher I can be.
Knowing how deeply I regret my decision has also motivated me to fulfill my commitments, regardless of what they are. I never signed a contract saying that I would continue to skate, but the fear of regretting the decisions I make motivates me now to finish commitments I make until the end. If I regret the decision I made to follow through, at least I can still tell myself that I am someone who upholds commitments.
Allow the regret you feel around a past decision to motivate you to achieve your present goals. During a particularly difficult semester of university, I considered transferring. However, I knew that if I left, I would never have the opportunity to study abroad. Moreover, I also knew that after all of the hard work I had put in to get into the school, that I would regret it if I left. Knowing that I never wanted to feel the same regret again pushed me to finish my 4-year degree.
Regret can be painful, but it can also be a powerful tool if you let it. It can motivate you to do things that you were initially intimidated by. Find something about your experiences and endeavors that motivates you to see it through and work toward that. You may be surprised at what you can accomplish when you look back.
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2. Giving myself a scheduled time and place to wallow.
It was impossible for me to watch the ladies’ figure skating event during the Winter Olympics for a few years. In fact, it was impossible for me to watch any nationally televised competitive figure skating event. I would find that my mind would get stuck on the “what if” train and I would stay there for hours at a time.
Over time, watching the events became easier because I recognized that wallowing wouldn’t change the decision I had made, nor would it get me back on the ice or give me a shot at a competitive career.
I have started giving myself scheduled time to freak out or wallow for one simple reason: as a twenty-something, I have far too much on my plate with a job and maintaining my mental health. Giving myself a scheduled time to wallow allows me to focus on what is important, but also allows me a set time to express my emotions instead of keeping my emotions bottled up.
Giving yourself a scheduled time to wallow in negative emotion gives you an outlet for that negative emotion without taking away from a task that needs your immediate attention.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity for time travel; living in the past is pointless. Having a space to express that regret and the emotions associated with that regret can help you move forward as well.
3. Focusing on the positives of the decision I made and enjoying other aspects.
Although I will always have to live with the regret I have around this decision, I have learned how to focus on the positives of the decision and enjoying other aspects. I have taken comfort in the lessons that skating has taught me and continue to teach me.
Rather than eliminate skating from my life entirely, I have continued to make skating a part of my life. I follow the sport and watch various televised events. For my birthday, for example, I was able to obtain tickets for a skating competition in a nearby city and enjoy skating in that fashion.
People have different ways of moving past the regret you feel, whether that means keeping the thing in question in your life in another way, or eliminating the thing from your life entirely in order to move forward. Although keeping skating in my life has worked for me, I have no way of knowing what works for anyone other than myself.
Finding and focusing on the positives of the decision you made and enjoying aspects of your present situation can be difficult, however, focusing on the positives you find within your situation can allow you to keep focusing on the present.
As a twenty-something, you will most likely experience regret in some shape or form at some point in your life if you haven’t already. However, it is important to move forward despite those decisions. Take the lessons and experiences that you gained as a result as use those to help you in the future.