like to reverse engineer in life whenever possible. I figure out what I want in life-goal or outcome, then I work my way backwards to the monthly, weekly, daily actions it will take toachieve this such outcome. I spend most of my time focusing on what I want to happen in my life, instead of what I don’t want to happen. But in some recent research, I stubbled across something that got me thinking about what I don’t want in my life- regret. I do not want to get to the end of this life I have been given and think back and wish I had done it differently.
What I stubbled upon that got me thinking about was an article which later became a book by Bronnie Ware. Bronnie worked in Palliative care for many years. Her patients were those who went back home to die. She spent the last 3-12 weeks with them sharing some incredible moments. She watched as they experienced a range of emotions on their way to finding their peace. She questioned them about their regrets and realized there were 5 most common themes.
I will share with you the 5 most common regrets- finishing with the number 1 regret of all. This is not meant to be a downer but a wake up call. I’m hoping that you will spend some time thinking about what you want to be able to remember about your life when you are toward the end. Don’t get stuck in it. Use those thoughts to help you reverse engineer yourself to the life you want. The life of your dream. So lets go.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
They did not realize that they could choose to be happy. Fear of change kept them in comfort
zones which lead to them feeling like they were content. Everyone experiences fear. It is a natural response that our brains use to keep us safe. Fear is not what lead to this particular regret. It was how these individuals talked to themselves about fear and how they dealt with fear. When you are afraid of fear, you avoid the feeling.
The only way you avoid the feeling of fear is by never stepping out of your comfort zone. When we don’t step out of your comfort zone, we dont grow. I don’t know what you think about the word content but I don’t like it. Content to me is settling for something slightly about unhappy. Content is not how I want to live this life I have been given.
How can we avoid this regret:
By mindfully living in the present and being intentional with our time and our actions. By establishing weekly and daily mindfulness routines we thoughtfully focus our time and energy toward what is important to us instead of floating through our days. By intentionally taking action toward what is important you, you will be more satisfied with your life and with yourself. You are choosing to do what it takes to be happier.
To be able to do this, you might need to adjust how you see and deal with fear. Imperfect Thriving Podcasts Episode 32:
How you See Fear is Everything with Kristen Ulmer, click here to listen
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
We get so Busy in our own lives. Women especially often feel guilty for taking time for ourselves. Time away from children and family with our friends. At the end of life there are Deep regrets about not taking the time to reach out and connect. The importance of social connectedness is undisputed. Friendship has been implicated inthe improvement of several important life areas of life. One study with visually impaired elders showed that those who maintained supportive friendships later in their lives fewer depressive symptoms, higher life satisfaction, and are better able to adapt to the loss of vision. A feeling of belonging to your community, perceived social support and rich interpersonal relationships not only significantly improve recovery after physical disease, but also act as protective factors against future relapse and illness. Results of other studies show that use of Facebook can promote feelings of social connectedness to peers and improve quality of life.
How do we avoid this regret:
1. Work on our connectedness.
Here are Two ways we can do this. .
If we are having problems in our close relationships- spouse, children, loved ones, friends….get to the bottom of it. If need counselor or coach to help this is an investment of time and money worth making. Because I am betting based on this regret, those individuals would have taken whatever money they had left at the end to work on their relationships. Do it for you and do it for your loved ones if you do not have the kind of relationships you want. In the end, your relationship with yourself and your relationships with others are all that really mater.
2. Find time for friends.
Whether far away via zoom or over a cup of coffee in person. We need each other. If you are not allowing yourself time for friends. If you have limiting beliefs, like “I always need to be doing for others and not myself” Or if there is any “not worthy” in your thoughts, or “Unlovable” “Not enough” that is getting in your way of reaching out to others. It is time to get help from a counselor.
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
Many kept feelings to themselves to avoid conflict or afraid to rock the boat. Many of those with this regret actually became sick because of the level of resentment they carried around with them as a result of not using their voices.
How do we avoid this one:
Find our voice and use it in calmly and confidently when it comes to things and people important to us. Speak up for yourself. If you avoid conflict at all cost. Delve into that. Often times it is because you don’t have confidence in yourself and in your beliefs. You are therefore worried about judgment and criticism from others. You may be worried that if you speak up they won’t like you. I have had many clients who wanted everyone to like them. This was so important “women must be nice” that they were afraid to speak up.
If you are having trouble finding your voice, invest in yourself and find the professional help you need. I have had clients come into my office who could not find their voices. By the time we concluded our sessions, they were clear on what was important to them, what there boundaries were, and what actions and words were necessary to protect those boundaries. I have seen some amazing transformations from avoiding conflict at all cost to being confident in their beliefs and standing up for them. Often times limiting beliefs are getting in the way. A counselor from Empower Counseling in Birmingham, Alabama can help you with that.
2. I wish I had not worked so hard.
Every single male patient that Bronnie nursed came to this regret. Men were not the only ones with this regret though. Women also experienced this regret. This regret came about due to missing their children’s use and the companionship of their partners.
How do we avoid this: 2 things.
1. Be value focused in your life. And be intentional and productive with your time. Work smarter not harder so that it is easier to have the time to spend on the other domains and values in those domains.
2. Work smarter not harder.
With a weekly mindfulness routine you can assure that you pay the necessary attention to all important areas in your life instead of getting caught up with one area. With a daily mindfulness routine you can assure you are focused and productive.
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
That is worth repeating. This was the number one top regret of the dying. At the end of life what people spent their time looking back on with regret the most – how many dreams went unfulfilled. Most of the people Bronnie cared for admitted they had not honored even 1/2 of their dreams and dies knowing that it was because of their choices.
How to avoid this regret:
For this one you must let go of your perfectionism and uncover whatever other limiting beliefs you have because until you do, you will keep limiting yourself. The more you limit yourself the more regrets you will have. Second, you must understand what you value in all 8 domains and take action toward these values.
The key to living a life of no regrets is to uncover your limiting beliefs, understand what you value in all 8 domains, and take daily imperfect action toward those domains. That is how you live your most satisfying and enjoyable life with no regrets. If you are stuck or you think limiting beliefs are keeping you in your comfort zone, content maybe, but not ridiculously happy and satisfied with your life- I encourage you to reach out to a
Empower Counseling in Birmingham Alabama to help you uncover these limiting beliefs. It is the first step on your journey to your best life.
If you would like to listen to Episode 38 of the Imperfect Thriving Podcast: The Top Five Regrets in Life and How to Avoid Them, click here.
At Empower Counseling, I use anxiety treatment methods that work. Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). ACT is effective in the treatment of many forms of anxiety.
ACT for anxiety therapy can be a helpful treatment for:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Panic Attacks
I have also tracked my own clients’ anxiety symptom improvement through ACT. My clients see great improvements in their anxiety symptoms. Through ACT, Empower Counseling can help you break free from anxiety’s control. Get back to living and enjoying your life.
To learn more about anxiety disorders, look into this resource for helpful information.
OTHER THERAPY SERVICES AT EMPOWER COUNSELING
There are many other services in my Birmingham, AL counseling clinic. If you find yourself feeling stuck, consider starting depression therapy. I specialize in providing guidance and support through teen therapy and counseling for college students. My life coaching and counseling for professionals will help you reignite your passion. I often offer therapy to help you navigate difficult life transitions. This can include starting a new career, going through a divorce, or downsizing. You might consider technology addiction therapy to help you create and maintain boundaries. If you are looking for a better, more balanced life, I am here to help you. Let’s get started.