Anger and Regret

by Dr. Michael Obsatz

So–we do a lot of things, and life turns out how it does. Sometimes we make good choices and reap
the benefits. Sometimes, our choices lead us to rejection, disappointment, frustration, and emotional
pain. Sometimes, a decision that seemed wise turns out to be foolish. So we think– “If I could do it all
over again, knowing what I know now, I could do it differently and avoid all that pain.” Maybe yes,
maybe no.

When we go through the inevitable losses of life, we grieve. Grieving involves both anger and
depression. We may become sad about something that didn’t work out. We may be angry at those who
misled, betrayed, or hurt us. Some people live a life of regret, wishing that things could have been
different. But, in reality, things are what they are–and it is up to us to make the best of it. What is done
is done.

Anger builds when we have not let ourselves grieve our losses. We become angry at others, life, God,
ourselves, and the world. Anger is a normal and natural response to loss, and loss happens to us regularly. A build-up of anger can make us irritable and hostile. Some people live with anger just below the surface,
and if one more hard thing happens, they explode.

A way to our heal grief is to acknowledge our losses, feel our sadness and anger, and then let it all
go. Another way to heal is to realize that our life is imperfect, but we can learn something from almost
everything that happens to us. It is possible that out of the most horrible circumstance comes an amazing
discovery or some new opportunity.

Anger is related to self-righteousness and regret. If we think, “I deserve a totally stress-free life without
any losses,” then we are deceiving ourselves and wallowing in self-pity. Regret is a waste of time.
Living in the past is a waste of time. When we wallow in the past, we often miss current opportunities
and possibilities.

In order to let go of the past, we must forgive life, God, ourselves, and others totally for what has
happened. We cannot go back and change things. We might learn something from what has happened if
we stop wishing that things had been better. You can start by writing letters of forgiveness to yourself,
others, God, or life. You can send the letter to others if you wish. That is up to you. Forgiving is freeing,
and you will probably have less stress and anger, and more energy if you can forgive.

We can realize that life has a way of broadsiding us–often when we least expect it. There are accidents
that are unpredictable, and in some cases, unavoidable. To forgive life is complicated. It involves
letting go of any ideal state that we had in mind and accepting the reality of now–what life truly is at
this very moment. It is vital to recognize that life has its ups and downs, highs and lows.

This acceptance of life as it leads to forgiveness which leads to “no regrets” which lessens our
anger. It is helpful to count our blessings, and recognize all of the good things in our lives. Letting go of
the past means appreciating our current journey, and realizing that what happened allowed us to learn
lessons we needed to learn.

© Dr. Michael Obsatz
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