When it comes to dealing with situations that didn't quite go your way, it can be borderline impossible not to hold onto regrets. You replay the scenario over and over in your mind, thinking of what you would have changed. But, deep down, you know no matter how many times you do this, you'll never actually change the past. Meanwhile, you're not doing your brain or your body any favors by holding onto so much regret.
Hear me out when I tell you, you need to let that sh*t go.
Regret is an intangible force that will weigh you down just as much as that 50-pound barbell at your local gym.
According to Psychology Today, regret is defined as a negative emotional state in which you blame yourself for a bad outcome of a situation. You find yourself wishing you could undo whatever choices you made in the past that ultimately led you to that bad outcome.
Elite Daily spoke with neuropsychologist, co-founder, and chief science officer of The Touch Point Solution, Dr. Amy Serin, who says feelings of remorse don't merely exist to make you feel like sh*t.
You experience regret so you can learn from your mistakes, and then move through life accordingly after the fact.
Dr. Serin tells Elite Daily,
Emotions such as regret are built-in mechanisms aimed to help us make better decisions in the long run. So even though they are unpleasant to experience, they do serve a purpose. If you make a choice and feel regret, the regret is there to tell you to adjust your behavior in future similar situations, and this is ultimately how we learn and adapt. The idea is to use emotions like regret or guilt to adjust behavior and move on.
Ruminating on what you yearn to change, she says, doesn't make sense and is ultimately counterproductive.
When you spend too long in a state of rumination, you surpass the learning phase of regret and enter a self-defeating phase, according to Dr. Serin.
It's self-defeating because you literally can't go into your past and alter anything, so you're in a constant state of wishing for what can never be.
And this whole psychological process can have tremendous effects on the body.
Dr. Serin explains,
Dwelling on regret… can activate sympathetic nervous system arousal and create inflammation, negative body sensations like stomach upset and headaches, and can tank a positive mood.
Moreover, according to The Huffington Post, when you feel regret, the cells in your body feel it, too.
Feelings of regret can affect a whole slew of bodily functions, including your blood pressure, energy levels, hormones, immune response, and much more.
Your thinking process can become foggy, and you're more likely to make poor choices, which only leads to more stress, of course.
But you don't have to hold onto this heavy weight; as Dr. Serin says, you're always just one positive thought away from an improved mood.
She tells Elite Daily,
When regrets come up in your mind, take a pause and ask if you can learn something from the regret. Use regret as a temporary tool to make adjustments and improve your life. Then temporary regret is actually useful to you. Ruminating about it will only rob you of the present moment and of living your best life.
Always remember you have the ability to use feelings of regret to your advantage, to help you learn something new about life.