“I have no regrets,” is a phrase we often hear, especially on TV and in movies from well-intended people who are trying to put a positive spin on the finality of their lives. Perhaps it’s better to at the end result of their life or current situation and conclude the road to get there — no matter how rough — was worth the suffering. All’s well that ends well, one could say.

I can’t imagine anyone living with no regrets. Most of us have many of them. It’s too bad life can’t be like the movies, where you can jump on a time machine and correct all the mistakes you’ve made.

Life is full of thing we could reconsider: Marry that person. Don’t marry this one. Say ‘no thank you’ to the job offer that ruined your life. Pick a different major in college. Go to college. Catch the ball that would’ve saved the game. Spend your time more wisely. We all have our own list.

Life is not like the movies, though. You get one chance with no do-overs. Yes, you can make changes, but once the sun has set, that day is gone forever. You get older or you die. Simple as that. Cheery thought, isn’t it?

We always have a choice to make the best of our lives or to further complicate them with mental baggage from our past. You can take responsibility for your own life. Choose not to stew in your regrets — they won’t help you anyway.

Learn from your mistakes and move on with your life. Forgive yourself. Yes, it is much easier to write than to practice. Here are a few ideas to help you let go of the negativity in your life so you can be the best version of you.

Leverage the Power of the Pen

Writing things down is a great tool. It makes things easier to remember, but it also helps with gathering and organizing your thoughts. When you write, you can visualize the idea or person you are addressing.

Pick three people, things or events from your past that trouble you to this day. Write them down in bold letters on a big piece of paper. If you don’t have three, be thankful. If you have more, write them down. Think about how long you have let these people, thoughts or events cloud your present life.

How has this behavior kept you from enjoying your life, from being happy? Forgive yourself, but say “no more.” Rip those pieces of paper to shreds and with them the memory of anything those words have meant to you. If you must, recycle the shreds, but the trash is more effective and a bonfire will let those bad thoughts go up in smoke. Give yourself a moment of peace and silence.

Take a few moments to think about what kind of person you would like to be. Write down the qualities you have or ones you would like. Maybe you are a good listener or a loyal friend or neighbor. Perhaps you are impatient at times or quick to judge others. Maybe you like being sarcastic or you enjoy confrontation.

Consider the People in Your Life

Perhaps you wish you were more outgoing or had more friends. Discover and analyze the qualities you have and the qualities you would like. It’s not only OK to love yourself, it’s a must if you want to make positive changes in your life to be the best version of you. Now, write down what you think is keeping you from being the best you could be.

Stress affects all of us. Maybe you aren’t such a great parent when thoughts of work follow you home. Lack of sleep can make all of us irritable and our fuses a little shorter. Life’s responsibilities and struggles can overwhelm us and bring out our worst qualities.

Maybe there are people in your life who bring you down and will keep you from being happy. You may have to make a tough decision to break off ties with people who are negative forces in your life. Being a friend is one thing, being a perpetual victim is another.
Take the advice of a trusted friend, but do not waste your time trying to please each person you encounter. It’s impossible and fruitless, and not everyone deserves you or your time. You cannot control what other people say or do, only how you respond to it.

Chose to Be Self-Reliant

Be honest — do you rely on outside influences to get through the day? Stress-eating, drugs or alcohol can sometimes overtake our lives in a larger way than we realize. If you’re self-medicating to calm your anxiety or help soothe the pain from your past, it may be time to make some changes. We all have things to help boost our mood, but be careful about depending on something to make you happy.

You may need to end some friendships if they do not support the changes you need to make. You will also make more friends among the people who are going through the same struggles you are. Being a friend to others will help you as well. Find a balance between relying on yourself and what’s around you to truly be happy and let go.

Power of Love and Forgiveness

Release the anger, anxiety and fear that have been holding you back. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and failures. Forgive yourself for taking so long to do so. Forgive others the pain they have caused you. If you are troubled by pain you have caused others, please let it go. Address it only if an appropriate opportunity arises. More likely than not, bringing up a past injury to another will not be received well. They might just want to forget it, too.

Love yourself. You have one life, and it’s going to be full of ups and downs. Manage those as best you can. Identify what makes you the best you and always strive to be that you. It isn’t always going to be easy to be your best you. Why should it be? Being the best at anything takes hard work. It will make you appreciate you even more!

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis is a wife, mom, writer, and healthy living blogger. She enjoys longs walks around the block with her toddler, prefers tea over coffee, and eats way too much peanut butter. You can find more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis

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