Regret. Such an uncomfortable feeling. I’ve been hit hard this week. Not just a single instance, but a triple-dose:

Regret situation #1: Business opportunity gone missing

I missed a great business opportunity that had been on my mind for a few months. I’d done lots of preparation but I faltered on the final step — of opening my mouth and speaking up. I just kept putting it off. I ignored the promptings of my intuition and kept talking myself out of it.

Until last Friday … when I finally did speak up. I received a reply: “Interesting idea. But it’s too late”. The regret hit hard. It hung around for weeks.

Regret situation #2: Not swimming at my local pool more

166954720_7f5206a1f0Here’s a picture of my local pool: Photo credit: Tim Gillin via Creative Commons.

All year I’ve been looking for an exercise routine that works — for me that means avoiding the sun completely, that is cool in summer, and that fits into my schedule. I usually swim at night-time, but it’s sometimes hard to hire my carshare car at that time (and also I don’t want to have wet hair going to bed).

Yesterday I woke up at 4am, and as I sat on the back step eating my breakfast under the stars, I realised that I could go for a pre-dawn swim. No sun, nice and cool, and I’d be home before my first client call! (And bonus — The car hire is free before 6am).

It was soooo beautiful swimming at 5am — I had the pool to myself, and there were only a handful of people around. As I swam my laps, I realised that “I should’ve thought of this earlier! Why haven’t I done this all year?”

A double-whammy of regret hit, as I realised I’d be moving out of my house (and this area potentially) very soon.

Regret. Regret.

Regret situation #3. Not offering one of my most popular webinars this year.

At the end of every year, I offer a yearly review webinar. Last year I ran one called “Say Goodbye to 2012”.

This year I opted to focus on Inbox Bootcamp instead. And that was fine … until I had a session with one of my clients, Ann, this week, and we did her yearly review. And I realised just how powerful the process is. This is what Ann wrote:

I almost didn’t bother to sign up for Erin’s end of year review, because I thought “Why would I pay someone to take me through a process I could do on my own?” – But I DID sign up because I KNEW I would never get around to it – simple as that. So I chose to view it as a gift to myself, and it was definitely time and money well spent!

It was a really valuable process, of course, looking back over the year and noting down all the little successes and learnings I’d had – because it’s amazing what you forget, and when you see it all written down in one place, it’s a real eye-opener. I thought “Wow, I have achieved a lot”. Erin made it easy by giving lots of silent space for me to think, but also giving me a set time to do it in (little 7 minute chunks). I found it really valuable to do it against the clock, so I didn’t have time to dither and faff.

Erin exudes efficiency and purposefulness, and I wanted some of that to rub off on me (and I think it did).

It was also really powerful to think of qualities or virtues that go with all the achievements, because that allows the impact of those to sink in deeper.

Ann Brown,

When I read what Ann wrote, I was struck by a pang of regret: Why aren’t I offering this to more people?

What I’ve learned about regret

The funny thing with regret is that it’s a LOT in the mind. The coulda/shoulda/woulda headtalk.

But it’s not ALL in the mind. There’s the physical repercussions too. That sinking feeling in my belly. The urge to kick myself (both metaphorically and, at one point surprisingly, physically). The tension I carry in my shoulders and jaw.

When I sink into my HEART though, things are different.

I start by doing some deep breathing. I then ask myself “What quality is underneath the regret? What am I craving?”

And if I sit with it long enough, I realise that there’s a virtue, a quality of the soul, that I’m seeking.

For examples, the first one with the business opportunity, I realised I was craving security. For the second situation with the swimming, I was wanting ease and joy. And with the third situation, the Say Goodbye to 2013 webinar, I wanted the win-win of being of service doing what my heart loves while getting paid for it!

Once I identified these qualities, something shifted in me. It was no longer the coulda/woulda/shoulda’s head talk. Instead I received an acknowledgement of what I was needing deep down. And then (and only then) the healing started. The regret began to dissipate, and self-forgiveness flooded in.

What are you regretting?

As we move into the New Year, are there any regrets that you have? If so, can you identify the virtue at the core? Here is a list that you can use as a starting-point for your reflections.

Feel free to add your reflections below or use the Contact form to send me an email privately.