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Regrets After Conflict

Having regrets about what happened in a conflict feels lousy. Our regrets are often remorse for things we wished we had said or done differently or not at all. Such ruminations generally trigger off a range of reactions in us such as our self-limiting beliefs, self-blame, insecurities and vulnerabilities. Our fears and “if only I had” thinking are other examples of how we handle regrets after our disputes are ostensibly over. Negative feelings that emerge about ourselves and the other person due to remorse add further layers to the initial conflict. The fact is we say and do things when in conflict that do not reflect who and how we want to be in the situation or the relationship. It may even seem as though we step out of ourselves and react in ways that are uncharacteristic of how we usually interact.

There are many consequences of regretting. Agonizing about what we said or did, self-criticizing and worrying are all energy draining. These and the related emotions can cause ongoing internal tension for us and external tension for the other person and those around us. In the end, regretting what we said or did – or didn’t say or do –doesn’t serve us well unless we learn from the experience and figure out how to apply that knowledge the next time.

For this week’s blog, it will help to bring to mind a conflict situation about which you continue to hold regrets:

  • What are your specific regrets about that situation?
  • What is the impact on you of those regrets?
  • What is the impact on the other person and the relationship?
  • What are other downsides of having regrets?
  • In what ways if any, may you be gaining from your regrets?
  • If you were to manage the situation differently, what would you have done or said?
  • What is the nature of your self-criticism or self-limiting beliefs about such situations?
  • What themes are there about your regrets in this situation as compared to other incidents about which you have also held regrets?
  • What options do you have about ways to manage situations that will not result in having regrets?
  • What is the lesson to be learned about regrets?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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