Hala has huge regrets when it comes to how she treated her parents in the past. ”It’s not like I was mean to them,” she tells me, the tears rolling doing her face.
”It’s that now that they’re both gone, I feel like there is so much more I could have done for them – so much time I wasted away from them.”
When I ask for clarification, she mentions how she left them to go to school far from home (even though she didn’t even end up using the degree she worked hard to achieve – another regret), and then when she got married, the work she put in to help her husband’s business grow consumed her to the point of exhaustion.
“I had little time off, and I couldn’t visit them except for a few times over the ten years before they passed. Then my father died and we brought my mother to live with us – but, even though she lived in the same house for almost a year – she was just there, you know? We were planning a family vacation, but she got sick before it and things got worse from there.”
Almost everyone’s suffered the pain of regret on some level. A job you should have taken, A marriage proposal that you could have considered, a career path you would have followed, and other related decisions.
But when regrets start eating us up alive – making us wallow in guilt, and depression, measures need to be taken.
Regrets don’t have to paralyze us. They shouldn’t be something that bring us grief – but rather, regrets, when harnessed in the right way can make our lives better, help our well-being, and be a source of good works, InshaAllah.
Try these three steps to turn your regrets from missed opportunities into reawakened purpose-filled ones:
1. Stop Stewing
Hala kept on thinking of her regrets when it came to time wasted away from her parents – so much so that she was actually wasting the moments she had now.
The thoughts were obsessive in nature and she was allowing them to stew in her mind. And you know how stews get darker the longer they simmer on the heat?
Oftentimes, the things that we allow to loop around in our brains are there so that we can avoid taking action on them. It’s definitely not problem solving and recognizing this is the first step in transforming your regrets.
2. Know your Compensation strategy
Find a way to make up for what has happened in the past with what you can do now to compensate for it. Maybe you wished you would have finished a higher degree or studied the Qur’an in depth. Is it too late to enroll for next semester? Or perhaps there is a Qur’an teacher in your area who can mentor you?
Hala is already starting to practice this step. ”I made `Umrah for my father last year,” she says – brushing the tears away. “Maybe I’ll do Hajj for my mother this year.”
And your plan doesn’t have to involve large steps – but even smaller ones that make you feel like you’re reversing the regret’s pull on you will build your confidence and ensure success in the long run, InshaAllah.
Just make sure to have a make-up plan strategized – one that requires action, rather than thinking. We think too much – but you knew that already. So, now, what are you going to DO about it?
3. Practice this prophetic protocol
In Release Your Inner Queen of Sheba, I base an entire protocol on the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in which he says,
“Wondrous are the affairs of the believer, for him there is good in all his affairs. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful and that is good for him. And when something displeasing happens to him he is patient, and that is good for him.”
It is the art of the re-frame.
In coming to terms with a regret that you may have, you should try to make peace with what happened, understand that it was the will of Allah, that as He is the Most Forgiving, you too can practice some self-forgiveness – and move forward.
The fact is that we are resilient, as humans and the more we seek (and work) to turn our regrets into catalysts, the more productive our lives will be, Insha’Allah.
First published: April 2013