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What to do with that surge of regret?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I know everyone feels regret when they blow something that's important to them. But maybe it doesn't stop them cold for days on end? 

 

Example, I spent a lot of time yesterday filling out multiple applications for open jobs with the State of California, tweaked my resume to make it more specific. It took a couple hours and I was pleased with the work I did.  I made screen prints of each job posting to keep in my job hunting file, and I'm pretty sure I stapled them all to one of the applications.  I didn't put them in our mail box, I drove them to the Post Office drop box. 

 

I'm SO disappointed and embarrassed (some HR person is going to read the application and wonder what the heck I was thinking).  And angry with myself. This sort of thing happens all the time, where, when I make a mistake (normal part of life) this wave of feelings wash over me, and the feelings are literally painful.  It feels so bad, it's become my habit to withdraw and avoid the subject.  And the worst part is I just don't try to do things anymore, because I don't want to experience that painful regret.  I mean, I really beat myself up. 

 

It's only been in the past few years I realized the feelings are out of proportion to the issue.  I try to reason myself through it, tell myself it does NO GOOD to let some regret stop me dead in my tracks.  I mean, I've withdrawn from Life quite a bit, and it's affecting (effecting?) my whole family.  It's a major reason we're declaring bankruptcy and are leaving this house. 

 

So I'm thinking I need to find a way to deal with the horrible feelings in the moment.  The panic, "Oh my God, I did it again!"

 

Have you experienced this? Have you successfully dealt with your feelings, so they don't keep you from acting?

post #2 of 25

I would meditate, visualize an HR person opening the envelope, reading your application, noticing the screen shots, thinking "Huh, wonder why she included these?" then setting them aside. You can add that s/he moves the application to the "further review" pile if you'd like. Then I would move on to the next pile of jobs for which I wanted to apply.

 

I know that feeling like a physical impact of "I screwed up. I suck. I'm never going to get anywhere. I feel so humiliated and imagine people i don't even know judging me/laughing at me/rejecting me."

 

While I do want a job, I keep reminding myself that I don't want to work for a place where small mistakes are the kiss of death. Because I make them. They make them. Everybody makes them.
 

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
While I do want a job, I keep reminding myself that I don't want to work for a place where small mistakes are the kiss of death. Because I make them. They make them. Everybody makes them.

Thank you, that's such a great point.  The kind of thing I realize later, after I've calmed down a bit.

 

I've meditated some now and again, but never made a habit of it. It could only help. 

post #4 of 25

Forgive yourself.  Well, I guess you WANT to do that but are finding it tough...

Sometimes such a fear of failure or intense regret stems from a childhood in which you were not allowed to make mistakes.  Additionally, maybe some of the things you have been going through recently have made you particularly tough on yourself.  What would you say to someone else who did this?  I bet you would urge that person to let it go.  

 

This little error didn't hurt anyone else.  I am positive that the application people have seen any number of strange inclusions.  This was probably just a little blip on their radar, if even that.

 

When I had a small fender-bender, I was so hard on myself.  When I confided so in some new friends, I inadvertently initiated a sharing of who had had the silliest accidents.  It made me feel a lot better to know that everyone makes mistakes.
 

post #5 of 25

here's what you do: first, ask yourself "what do i have to learn from this in my life." 

 

(given that you are posting about the screen shots stapled to a resume... i would say that this instance is giving you the opportunity to overcome your situation with regret... which would be a mighty accomplishment, indeed! so: rejoice! this is good news!!)

 

next, decide to "fake it until you can make it." 

 

laugh about it!!! i know, you can't laugh because you feel like crying. so, *fake laugh.* fake laughing about it. try it.

 

then, forgive yourself for it. a simple mistake. you are prone to making mistakes. so what. it's *entirely forgivable.* some people are mistake-prone. it happens. forgive yourself. if for some reason, you find it hard to forgive yourself. repeat step two (fake it until you can make it). fake forgive yourself. don't forget to accept the forgiveness. (or fake accept your own fake forgiveness).

 

then, lather-rinse-repeat. each time these mistakes happen, think about what you can learn from them. (perhaps slowing down, being deliberate, checking and rechecking to make sure everything is perfect before sealing an envelope, perhaps clearing all distractions before focusing on your work, etc., etc.) laugh about your mistakes. don't take yourself too seriously. forgive yourself and accept your own forgiveness.

 

you can do this!!!

post #6 of 25
This is going to sound weird. But those screen shots usually have job descriptions and numbers. You very well might have saved them a bunch of time. I hate when people come in and say "I applied what now?" I have no idea which job you applied too. I don't have r to go through all of the open requisitions. Now if someone came in and said. "I applied, hers a printout of the job in case you need the reference numbers" that would be wonderful.! hiring systems are complicated and not user friendly. You probably did them a favor.
post #7 of 25

This is kind of interesting to me because I think my husband goes through this. He's really very hard on himself and when something goes wrong, which is often in his book, he's very difficult.

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'm feeling better today.

 

LLQ1011, that would be fantastic, if that was the HR person's response! 

 

Quote:

This little error didn't hurt anyone else.

Pepe, no it didn't hurt anyone in real terms. It's just the context.  We really, REALLY need me to get a job, and dh was SO happy that I'd sent off 3 applications that day (I was too! My resume was particularly good!). I simply didn't bother to share with him my discovery, that's I'd stapled extraneous papers to my application. Because of some anxiety issues and cognitive issues I've got a lot of anxiety and shame wound up in this whole job hunting thing.  What if I told him? Of course he'd forgive me, but he'd be so disappointed.

 

But you're right, no real damage was done, and I'm trying to be mindful of it.

 

Tropicana, great post.  Faking it is sort of what I've been trying to do. Trying not to dwell on it.  Be more emotionally resilient. I'm more productive and efficient that way. All production stops when I'm caught up in regret. 

 

Ellie, this all has to come from within.  I'm almost 45 y.o. and it's only been in the past couple of years that I've realized that I can actually change myself for the better. I'd given up, thought my various issues were insurmountable, thought that's just the way I am.  I think getting along is always going to be a little more difficult for me than it is for the average human, but I'm NOT helpless to make some changes. 

 

I think getting a handle on my emotional response to mistakes is going to help lots of different areas of my life.  It's what's in common with all the instances of anger and regret. 

post #9 of 25

I completely understand how you feel.  I get waves of anxiety over stupid things I did years ago that no one but me remembers or cares about.

 

That said, having worked in HR, I know that's probably one of the least odd things they received.  The worst the HR person probably thought is that you were trying to show them all the jobs you were applying too, and even that isn't that terrible.  Weird, sure, but not at all offensive or even something that would exclude you from candidacy.

 

Please don't beat yourself up over this.  I know that's easier said than done, but it's not a big deal to anyone but you.  :)

post #10 of 25

Ah, yeah. And the cringing every time you think about it.  Ugh.  

 

I find my anxiety about things I perceive I have done the wrong way is much higher when I am going through a rough patch emotionally.  So I think it is related.  But regardless of where I am emotionally, I tend to beat myself up for stuff.  I have been working on being gentle with myself over the past few years and I think I am getting there.

post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post I have been working on being gentle with myself over the past few years and I think I am getting there.

 

Thank you, that gives me hope!

post #12 of 25

I beat myself up a lot too. Recently this quote has been helping me: Positive thoughts generate power, negative ones waste it. And it seriously works.

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neera View Post

I beat myself up a lot too. Recently this quote has been helping me: Positive thoughts generate power, negative ones waste it. And it seriously works.

A hypnotherapist once told me that the subconscious does not understand the words 'not' and 'try', so keep them out of any affirmations you use. For example, use 'remember' instead of 'don't forget'.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 

I can agree with that.  It's all very Yoda-like.  I noticed that my mind ignores 'try' altogether. There's too much opportunity to cop out. I have more success telling myself to simply 'do' something.

 

Along the same lines, regarding 'Fake it till you make it',  I'm taking it step further in the positive direction.  Up thread I said, faking it is sort of what I've been trying to do, not to dwell on my foibles.  But I'm also actively adding positive terms.  Not only 'don't do this', but also 'do that'.  More and more "ok, that didn't work, so now let's do this."  Instead of 'Jeeze, I blew it so I'm going to curl up in a ball and disappear.'

 

For years and years I've been reflexively telling myself "you are a horrible mother" and "I hate you".  The impulse disappears when I'm feeling good and staying busy, and it resurfaces when I'm anxious and feeling waves of regret.  And it's really impulsive and automatic. For the longest time it seemed like I'm helpless to stop it.  But recently when a "I really hate you" pops up I've followed it up with "No I don't, I actually like you.  I think you're cool (funny, smart, kind, etc),"  said out loud to make a bigger impression, along with some deep breathing to distract and reroute the train of thought.  My mind doesn't really believe it yet, but I'm taking it on faith that it will eventually.

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
But recently when a "I really hate you" pops up I've followed it up with "No I don't, I actually like you.  I think you're cool (funny, smart, kind, etc),"  said out loud to make a bigger impression, along with some deep breathing to distract and reroute the train of thought.  My mind doesn't really believe it yet, but I'm taking it on faith that it will eventually.

This really helped me!

 

My kids having grown accustomed to shouts of, "I love you, [my name]" usually from the shower or from in front of the bathroom mirror or while I'm doing dishes. That was how I started arresting those "You suck. I hate you." thoughts that would just spring into my head.

 

I do think it really helps. And I don't try to talk myself out of it -- I just leave it at "I love you" as an affirmation.

 

It did start when I was beating myself up for mistakes, as an "and" -- "You forgot to pay the electric bill, had a late fee.... and I LOVE YOU." I think many of us need to love ourselves exactly as we are in order to feel better and then to do better. It's made it possible for me to be a whole person all the time instead of alternating between being a loser and being awesome (but then having to remind myself that I actually suck, because thinking I'm awesome is "selfish" and "prideful.")

post #16 of 25

You know what I would do in a situation like this? I'd call up a good friend and have a laugh about it. "Oh my god I did the stupidest thing today - I included screen shots of all the jobs I applied for this week on a job application. What the bleep was I thinking!?" And then just laugh - sucky, yes. Embarrassing, sure. But it's funny. If we can't laugh at ourselves, then what do we have when the going gets rough? And as another poster said, do you really want to work for someone who'd make it a bigger deal than that anyway?

post #17 of 25
Maybe the OP feels she *must* be perfect. I used to feel that way, when I was trying to get approval from my family or husband. I finally quit looking for something that was never going to come. Now, when I make a mistake, it's easier to move on. Ironically, my mother usef to criticize me for not moving on easily, and she was part of the problem.
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 

Pek64, perfectionism is a big part of it.  Though if you'd asked me if I think I need to be perfect of course I'd say no, of course not.  My problem is that I thought I need to get everything right the first time.  I'm pretty literal-minded, so I didn't see how the concepts over-lap. 

 

 

Quote:
Ironically, my mother usef to criticize me for not moving on easily, and she was part of the problem.

 

Oh boy, no kidding.  I've been getting to know my dad more since my mom died 5 years ago.  Generally speaking he expects people to see things the way he does and do things the way he does and is righteously peeved when people don't.  It's very difficult to live with.  When I was a kid I constantly had my radar on, trying to guess what he wanted, to figure out if I'd done something right, or was thinking the right way.  The thing is, he's quirky and so his conclusions aren't always logical!!  It's just he's so imperious about it!  Imperious isn't the right word, can't think what goes there...

 

I thought I was 'accident prone' when I was kid, like it was just a permanent part of my personality, because I tripped a lot, broke things a lot, etc.  You know what?? It all went away when I moved out!  My physical coordination improved and I stopped tripping and breaking things.  I'll never be a gymnast or stuntman, but without even trying my coordination improved when I got away from the stress my dad generated in me. 

 

It's not just that I grew out of it, either.  Because the klutziness sneaks back when I'm with him for long lengths of time. I'm his caregiver 2 mornings a week.  For me, that's about my limit with him. 

 

Kitchensqueen, you're so right, a sense of humor about yourself is vital.  I do not have a particularly good sense of humor.  But I see the value in it, so I try to lighten up!

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

Kitchensqueen, you're so right, a sense of humor about yourself is vital.  I do not have a particularly good sense of humor.  But I see the value in it, so I try to lighten up!

 

It is easier said than done, especially in certain situations but most of the time it will make you feel better a little bit. 

post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

Oh geeze. Sorry if I already shared this here, I've lost track. But we've declared bankruptcy and are trying to short-sell the house.  There's a lot to argue about, but we know we've GOT TO maintain a sense of humor throughout this adventure.  Misunderstandings abound when I get over-sensitive about this gargantuan 'decluttering' project (an altogether inadequate word for figuring out what to do with 17 years accumulated shi!t). We're disagreeing about what to get rid of and how, to the point that I've been furious with dh. 

 

Still, we're doing alright.  As long as we keep talking and figuring out the misunderstandings. 

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