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It’s almost impossible to find an adult of a certain age with no regrets. We all have them, be they small or large. One survey conducted on this subject reports that 90 percent of people say that they have at least one major regret.
Studies show that most regrets stem from the things we didn’t do, rather than the things we did do. Regardless of the life we’ve lived, whether we struggled with addiction, depression or have had a substantial amount of time in recovery, it turns out that most people regret the same things.
The key here is how to move past our regrets.
Author, Bronnie Ware, found that her life forever changed after working with patients facing end of life issues.
Her book, which originally began life as a blog post read by more than three million people, is titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.”
The message is one of hope for how we, the living, can learn from the regrets of those who have passed before us.
Bronnie Ware Found These to be The 5 Most Common Regrets
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not a life others expected of me
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
These regrets can be especially emotional for those struggling with addiction, as well as for newly sober individuals just waking up to the realities of their past behavior.
When it comes to substance misuse and dependency, underlying issues of regret must be addressed in order to recover.
Learning to cope with our regrets and changing negative thinking patterns helps to break the cycle of relapse so common with addiction.
An honest and thorough examination of these top 5 regrets might look something like this:
1. Live a Life True to Yourself
Being true to one’s self means having the courage to address personal problems, such as addiction, depression or anxiety.
It’s not easy, but getting treatment and taking steps necessary for recovery will pay off.
We cannot love and help others if we don’t first love and help ourselves.
2. Don’t Work So Hard You Miss Out on Life
Allowing job related stress to affect our overall happiness can have dire consequences.
For many, it leads to the abuse of alcohol and drugs as a method for coping.
Learning to manage the energy, emotion and turmoil work creates in our lives will allow the focus to be on greater happiness and healthiness.
3. Have the Courage to Express Your Feelings
Bottled up sadness, jealousy or anger can fuel the disease of addiction.
Learning how to calmly and effectively communicate our feelings is not only important, it’s vital to easing the regret we feel about not apologizing for and amending our behavior, or for not defending ourselves when we should have.
4. Stay in Touch With Family and Friends
So often addiction and mental illness isolates people from their friends and families.
Getting treatment and learning to live in recovery gives anyone a chance to repair lifelong relationships with their loved ones.
Strong relationships provide a solid platform for a happier life.
5. Let Yourself Be Happy
Because addiction changes the chemical makeup of the brain, it’s difficult for substance abusers to be happy without using drugs or alcohol.
In sobriety, the brain’s chemistry will recover, and a person is able to again find joy and fulfillment in the important things that life has to offer.
Just as Bronnie Ware’s experiences with the dying changed her life, learning from the most common regrets of those who have gone before us can transform ours.
Examining our behavior, the way we act and think about ourselves and toward others, will give us the opportunity to live a regret-free life.