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Four Ways to Defeat the Ghosts of Your Past - Part 2

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In Part 1 of this blog I introduced the "Ghost of Regret."  I wrote about understanding the ghost and the negative side effects of living in the past.  In Part 2 we get into the details!  How can you defeat the ghosts of your past?  How do you make regret disappear forever?

Why won't that spirit leave?

Even though your past traumas, trials and tribulations have ended, the Ghost of Regret still haunts you.  You want to let go of the past, but either can't or won't.  Bear in mind, holding on to the past is just another bad habit like binge drinking, smoking, procrastination, nail biting and picking the wrong mate.  Luckily for you, these behavior patterns can be broken by changing how you THINK.

Your brain is programmed when you behave in a particular way repeatedly.  Like a well-worn path, the synaptic pathways in your brain form to respond in a certain manner.  You become accustomed to accessing the same response like clock work, even unconsciously.  Your actions, reactions and repeated thoughts become second nature.  They travel along a familiar pathway.  Change that mental travel route and you will stop the spirit.

Four Ways To Stop The Spirit Of Regret

  1. Explore The Root Causes or Thoughts That Hold You Hostage

    Discovering why you are stuck in the past is critical first step.  Ask yourself these questions:

    • Why do I keep thinking about the past?
    • What am I trying to accomplish?
    • Has someone or something hurt me?
    • Are there unresolved issues or open wounds still plaguing me? 
  2. Try The Following Exercise - Travel Back In Time

    You are entitled to one boarding pass to your past.  Consider taking a friend along on this journey.  This mental experience will help you revisit the devastation that brought the Ghost of Regret into your life. 

    A word of warning:  this can be a scary moment.  Be mindful... and make a conscious decision to take a leap into your past.   You may or may not be emotionally strong enough to face it.  If you are not ready to do this exercise, don't.  If your wounds are still open and raw, try this exercise at other time as time tends to heal wounds.  This trek is not for the faint of heart.  You will be revisiting the voices and visions of your past.  As such, create for yourself a “no judgment zone.”  Don’t be self-critical; simply recreate the events that have caused the Spirit of Regret.  

    Below is an exercise to help you travel back in time:
  • Find a quiet place.  Allot at least 10 minutes of uninterrupted time.
  • Have a mirror accessible.
  • Visualize all of the parties involved in the hurt.
  • Visualize the scenario and the words that were exchanged.
  • Take ten deep breaths.
  • Mentally replay the event. Relive your reaction to the trauma and feel the emotions.
  • Visualize how you reacted at that moment.
  • Immediately INTERRUPT this re-enactment by changing your body and focus.  Stand up and shout an irrelevant word like "lighthouse" or "cookies", etc. to break the limiting thought or pattern. 
  • Add a new response.  Visualize yourself responding non emotionally and/or powerfully. 
  • Repeat this entire re-enactment several times until you feel emotionally strong.
  • Look in the mirror and say with conviction: "This experience has no power over me."  Tell yourself "I have brought closure to this chapter in my life."  Abandon the memories.  Don't let them take up space in your thoughts.  You have better things on which to focus.
Repeat this exercise whenever you sense the Ghost of the Regret returning.  Your brain is now developing new pathways that take the sting out of the past.
  1. Help others battle their ghosts - 

    You will become more skillful in destroying the spirits when you help others.  Think of ways you can help other people being haunted by the Spirit of Regret.  These cathartic and altruistic gestures are very beneficial.  Share your story with others, speak at events on the subject, start a blog or organizations to help others.  Be an example and share these exercises with others.
  1. Keep your mind busy - 

    Take control of your thoughts!  Remember the old adage, “an idle mind is the devil's workshop.”  There is a lot of validity to that statement.  Your thoughts tend to sail away like a ship without a rudder when left to their own devices with no instructions or directions from you.  The subconscious mind is like a child that needs consistent guidance.  Don’t let your mind go unattended and lead your thoughts astray.  Busy is good.  Above all, keep your mind preoccupied with positive, constructive and healthy thoughts.  Do things that bring you joy.  When you need a break, take a moment to meditate on uplifting subjects.

Now that the Spirit of Regret is gone, bring closure!

  • CELEBRATE! - You got rid of that pesky ghost!  Feel fortunate that you have taken steps to drop the baggage of the past.  Shedding the weight of the past is the only way to move forward.  Some people are stuck in time warps and cannot part from past mistakes.  Interestingly, you have changed your fate.  You have the wits and will to release the ropes of regret.  Look at it like a commencement exercise.  You are ending one chapter and starting a new chapter in your life.  That is cause for a celebration!  Do something nice for yourself to mark this occasion.

  • LEARN! - Finding an empowering message in a messy situation can be uplifting.  You can conquer painful situations when you seek and acknowledge the lesson that you have learned.  At times, that lesson is very straightforward or it can be complex.  As you move into a new reality, continue to challenge yourself by focusing on life lessons.

  • PROMISE! - Vow to never make the same mistake again.  Sometimes you will forget that you are in charge of your thoughts, not the other way around.   Be aware of the triggers that will take you down the path where that pesky spirit hangs out.

Now you know the critical techniques to use when the Ghost of Regret haunts you.  Take control and don't let your thoughts run amok.  You never have to mentally re-live the pain of the past.  I recommend that you use these techniques often.  You have the power to stop those annoying spirits!

To your success,

LBJSIG

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