What are the Three R’s? Many of you may say they are reading, writing and arithmetic but we are talking about resentment, regret and resilience. When thinking about the three R’s, it’s important to focus on how the latter (resilience) can be built from the former two (resentment and regret).
Yes, on the surface it doesn’t seem like these three words would go together and it might be hard to believe that a combination of resentment and regret could amount to anything related to strength and flexibility. But, if we look without fear at what these feelings are and where they come from, we’ll find they can make us stronger and more confident.
Resentment can be a product of not expressing our feelings appropriately. If we swallow our feelings often, we can harbor resentment for those individuals, remarks or acts that triggered those suppressed emotions.
Regrets revolve around choices we did or did not make in some past moment.
Each of these are rooted in a past that will remain unchanged. Mentally rehashing these moments repeatedly is paramount to torture and suffering.
To change these negative feelings into strength, first reconsider whatever misstep or missed opportunity has kept you from moving forward. In fact it’s a good idea to write down the person, event or decision around which your resentment and regret are a focus.
Think about it and ask yourself this series of questions below:
1. What lesson(s) can be learned from this scenario?
Be constructive; this is not an opportunity to beat yourself up.
2. What am I having trouble letting go of?
This is easily identified as the one or few thoughts you repeatedly have.
3. How can I forgive myself or the others involved?
Judging your past behavior based on a current and improved mindset and skillset is unfair. Apologize to yourself and any others involved. Make it genuine and specific. Do not expect it to be reciprocated; the purpose is to clear your conscience. Acknowledge that you did your best in that past moment.
4. Which of my core values is being challenged?
Perhaps one of your core values is safety and you failed to play it safe by taking a business or financial risk. Identifying the value violated by your past self will allow you to determine whether or not this value helps or hurts overall. The value may sound good in theory but it may be possible that it no longer fits your life. Perhaps you want to be able to take more risk and are unsure how to reconcile with your desire for safety.
5. What can I do differently if similar circumstances appear in the future?
It may be helpful to write a “do-over” scenario in which you would write the ideal scenario of the circumstances that have caused you so much angst. This exercise will not only highlight the lesson you learned but will also emphasize your growth in terms of skillset and mindset.
The thing about resilience is that in order for it to be built, it’s necessary for you to be taken out of your element or comfort zone. Resilience is a result of being stretched or challenged. The events of our past that have generated resentment and regret are the best tools for personal growth; as these are the experiences that made us feel uncomfortable and out of control.
The lessons we identify can lead to growth and strength and will allow for flexibility going forward. Acknowledging our weaknesses allows us to focus on ways to make those improvements we deem necessary. Envisioning possibilities moves us out of the past and into the present and future. Establishing self-awareness builds a foundation on which to base future decisions and allows us to better determine those things we can control.
We all have regrets, but to allow them to torture us for the rest of our lives is not only painful, it’s non-productive. Make your past missteps work for you by looking to them as life lessons and you’ll find that a healthier and wiser life awaits you.