This is the conclusion of the article Seven Dirty Words to Eliminate From Your Vocabulary. As I wrote earlier, these words represent emotions we feel—you would be a robot if you never felt any of them—and can be self-debilitating if you carry them around like a noose around your neck. Understanding how they can overwhelm you is the first step in rising above the toxic effect they can have on your life.
Previous I discussed:
- Jealousy and
The next word is:
REGRET – The great American poet John Greenleaf Whittier best summarized a definition of regret: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!”
Regret represents a continual looking back at actions or decisions that you’ve either taken or not taken. When you’re focused on regret you spent most of your thinking time in the past. So much time and energy are focused on this that you run the risk of getting into a paralysis by analysis, sort of like facing giant a stop sign that keeps you stuck in repetitive and/or negative thoughts. Take the person who’s dealing with the breakup of a relationship, for example. Instead of moving on, she goes over every critical juncture in that relationship over and over, asking herself if things might have been different if only she’s said “this” or did “that”. Acres of mental space is taken up with this, to the point that she’s incapable of seeing the positive around her in the present.
The insidiousness of regret also manifests itself in the work area. If you’ve lost a job or been passed up for promotion, you can be prone to dwelling on actions that might be considered regretful in hindsight. There’s no taking back the actions, however, and being haunted by them can prevent you from taking the productive steps needed to move on with your life.
Here are some tips for dealing with regret:
- Acknowledge what’s happened. The incident may have been your fault or it may have been the result of events out of your control. It doesn’t matter. Nothing constructive to change your mindspace will happen until you acknowledge that it happened, it’s over, and it’s time to move on.
- Forgiveness. Admittedly it is easier to wallow in regret than to embrace forgiveness but it’s amazing how much your mind can clear when you’ve forgiven those who may have wronged you or forgiven yourself for actions you’d rather not done.
- Live in the now. It does no good to live in the past and keep rewinding events that can’t be changed. Realize that today is a new start and embrace the possibilities that are open and available when you can look at them with clear eyes and focus.
The final “dirty” word is:
FEAR – This is the granddaddy of all negative emotions. It’s not only the most powerful hold on your emotions and actions, but it’s also the hardest to shake off.
This is because fear is an instinctive emotion that’s critical to your survival. It’s what keeps you from running across the street without looking, going outside in a snowstorm wearing a bathing suit, drinking water from a muddy puddle or running up to a bear on a camping trip. Fear is meant to keep you safe. Fear becomes a problem when it overpowers you to the point of preventing you from taking actions that would otherwise be in your best interests. There’s a common acronym for this kind of fear that bears repeating here—False Events Appearing Real. This type of fear keeps you from standing up in a meeting and presenting a speech, approaching someone you want to know better or doing something you really want to do that involves stepping outside of your comfort zone. All is not lost, however. While you never want to get rid of all fear, there are ways of conquering it.
- Analyze the situation. If it’s anything other than “this is going to literally kill me” then ask yourself the next question.
- Why am I fearful? What is it about the situation that keeps you stuck in your tracks? Chances are it’s a story you’ve told yourself that you think is true but really isn’t.
Take the giving a speech example. Will standing in front of an audience kill you? Of course not, so the reasons for your fear lie elsewhere. Are you afraid you’ll be laughed at? Deemed boring? Forget what you want to say and feel like an idiot? None of these are life-threatening and all can be dealt with once you’ve identified the source of your fear.
- Make a chart. Write down what you want to do, what your fear is if it’s valid or invalid and what action you can take to tame it. Most of the time if you take a good look at the reason behind your fear you’ll discover it’s the result of something that happened to you as a child that’s simply not relevant any longer. Seeing it in the light of day can help you see this fear as being silly or outdated and not worth making you upset.
- Help yourself. Try asking yourself before you go to bed if you can get to the source of your fear in your dreams. Our subconscious knows the answer and your dreams can give you meaningful clues.
- Get help. Don’t fear asking for help. If your fear is truly deep, like a phobia, you may need professional help to deal with it, through hypnosis or talk therapy.