As much as you might try to live with no regrets, they can still rear their ugly head from time to time. If you’re tired of carrying the weight of your past, this “self-compassion letter” writing exercise can help you grow from even your biggest regrets.
Photo by Adam Schwartz.
In a recent study, led by Jia Wei Zhang and Serena Chen from the University of California, Berkeley, researchers asked 400 adults to identify their biggest regret in life, then write about it. Those that were asked to practise self-compassion as they wrote about their experience reported feeling more motivation to improve themselves afterwards. They also felt committed to avoiding the same types of mistakes in the future, and the researchers found that looking back at regrets with self-compassion led to more overall growth. If you want to move past your own regrets, you can help yourself with a simple writing exercise like the one used in the study. Identify your regret, grab a pen and paper, then answer this prompt:
Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this regret from a compassionate and understanding perspective. What would you say?
Your “self-compassion letter” will help you embrace your regret so that you can learn from it. Acceptance is key to letting go of your past mistakes, and without it, you can’t forgive yourself and move on.
How to Grow From Your Regrets [The Greater Good Science Center]