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Move On Quickly From Regrets Using This Writing Instruction

Move On Quickly From Regrets Using This Writing Instruction post image

Working on self-esteem is not the best way to move on from regrets.

“Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this regret from a compassionate and understanding perspective.

What would you say?”

That is the writing instruction used in a new study which found that self-compassion helps people move on from regrets.

Being kind to oneself is an excellent way of letting go of past disappointments, embarrassments and failures.

Indeed it may be that with self-compassion, it is possible to feel stronger after life’s inevitable hiccups.

The study’s authors conclude that self-compassion works by increasing acceptance:

“…self-compassion led to greater personal improvement, in part, through heightened acceptance.

Furthermore, self-compassion’s effects on personal improvement were distinct from self-esteem and were not explained by adaptive emotional responses.

Overall, the results suggest that self-compassion spurs positive adjustment in the face of regrets.”

For the research, people were asked to write about regrets they had.

One group were encouraged to think self-compassionately with the following instruction:

“Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this regret from a compassionate and understanding perspective.

What would you say?”

A second group were encouraged to boost their self-esteem with the following instruction:

“Imagine that you are talking to yourself about this regret from a perspective of validating your positive (rather than negative) qualities.”

Both were compared to a control group who did not write about regret.

The results showed it was the people who wrote self-compassionately who felt more self-forgiveness, personal improvement and self-acceptance.

It turned out that accepting your flaws is better than trying to boost yourself up by focusing on positive qualities.

Self-compassion probably works in multiple ways.

Not only does it better allow us to confront our regrets, it also enables us to see them in their true light.

After all, we are all only human.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Zhang & Chen, 2016).

Handwriting image from Shutterstock