You Don’t Have to be Stuck in Disappointment and Regret.

By Dr GaryCA Latest Activity March 2, 2013 at 8:22 pm Views 974 Replies 11 Likes 3

Dr Gary

“I never thought this would happen to me.”

“I didn’t think life would turn out this way.”

“If only I hadn’t…”

These are words of disappointment and regret. And I don’t any human being who doesn’t use those words from time to time. Or often. Life happens, and not always the way we had planned or hoped it would happen.

Nobody knows this better than someone who is living with a chronic condition like lupus. A chronic condition introduces change, much of it unwelcome. Along with challenges and limitations that can affect daily activities, relationships, and finances, and more.

A chronic condition can bring up all kinds of thoughts and feelings about what you thought your life would be like. How other people are living their lives compared to how you are living yours. At some point, you may have asked yourself the “Why me?” question. Or “Why didn’t I?”

Disappointment is the perception that you didn’t get what you wanted or hoped for. And wishing your life had turned out differently. Like a life without the chronic condition that you seem to have been saddled with.

Regret is wishing you had, or hadn’t, done something in your past, or made different choices. Maybe even choices that might have helped you to avoid your condition.

Disappointment can leave you feeling like your life is out of control, that things happen to you, and that you are powerless. Regret, on the other hand, is giving yourself the power, but also making yourself to blame.

Either way, disappointment and regret leave you wishing that your life was anything but what it is. And they come hand in hand with feelings like anger, sadness, and guilt.

So, the best way to say it is that disappointment and regret are stops along the road when you are living with a chronic condition, but not places where you want – or have – to stay for very long. And certainly not places to put down roots.

Here’s what to do when you feel disappointment and regret closing in on you:

Let yourself feel how you feel. When phrases like “if only…” and “I never thought…” are creeping into your thoughts and your speech, don’t judge yourself for not having the “right” attitude, or hold it all in and hope the disappointment or regret will go away on its own. Talk with someone you trust, who can listen without judging you or trying to “fix” you. Or post a discussion and get some feedback. Don’t go through this alone.

Don’t avoid the “Why me” question. Disappointment and regret often lead to the ultimate question: “Why me?” That can be a scary question because it brings up painful feelings. Most likely, you will find that the answer is that there isn’t an answer. So why keep asking, right? Well, because it’s only human to question why. And to take a look at your life and what living with a chronic condition means, now and for the future. In that way, asking “Why me?” is a milestone along the road to acceptance.

Recognize the blame game for what it is. Disappointment lays the blame on something outside of yourself, like the unfairness of life, or something that someone else’s words or actions. Regret lays the blame smack dab on your own doorstep. Either way, blaming is a loser because you end up spinning the same story over and over, trying to explain the unexplainable. Blaming life, blaming yourself. Stuck. In the meantime, life is happening all around you.

Take a look at what acceptance means to you. When I am having a conversation about disappointment and regret with my clients, the idea of accepting their diagnosis often leads to a question: “Why shouldn’t I feel this way? Am I supposed to pretend that it’s okay that this got handed to me?”

Think of acceptance as: “Here I am. Now what can I do?” This is kind of like going with the flow instead of struggling against the tide. Decide to focus on what’s possible in your life, beginning with what you can do right now to have a better day. Accepting your diagnosis doesn’t mean you are giving in, or giving up. You’re a fighter but that doesn’t mean you should be swinging your fists in every direction. Pick your battles. And conserve your energy for what’s most important in your life.

Start each day with gratitude. One of the best antidotes to the negativity caused by disappointment and regret is to remind yourself of what you’re grateful for in your life. Focusing on the positive can help you “rewire” your brain to look at the big picture. So replace the “should have’s” and “shouldn’t have’s” with what’s good, what makes you happy, who’s there for you, and what’s possible.

Be compassionate toward yourself. Everybody experiences their own suffering, in one way or another. Nobody gets to have it all. Give yourself some credit for having a lot of challenges in your life. For doing the best you can. For facing life on life’s terms. In other words, give yourself a break, and show yourself some patience.

See what you can learn from the past. Want to make productive use of your regrets? Use them to guide how you live your life in the future. Go ahead and ask yourself what you wish you did or didn’t do. Identify the positive actions that you wish you had taken more often. And start taking positive action. Starting with deciding to take the best possible care of yourself. To be a support for the important people in your life. To make the most of every moment. Experience can be a good teacher.

Disappointment? Regret? Don’t ignore them. Listen to what they have to say, but don’t let them take up all your time. You’ve got too much going on in your life!

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Replies (11 replies)

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  • garden creek
    garden creek March 7, 2013 at 10:16 pm   

    DrGray sometimes just want curl up in corner and die.

  • garden creek
    garden creek March 7, 2013 at 10:15 pm   

    Dr.Gray I've read your topic on didappointment and regrets although sometimes and some people do have that they are dealt hand a hand that brings that and no matter how hard you try to give cards back it doesn't work it gets worse.and yes I am talking about me I been dealt a hand that's been full darks unfairness regret hate disappointment. I've lost everything not more than once several times I didn't bit once can I say its completely my fault. And I add sickness and after all that I'm depressed people have options on that like just turn a light bulb on nothing was ever handed to me so honestly I do say why me why some people seem have it all money house etc act I don't have that soon I've lost all that again once I became sick I have one kid sometimes I think she be better off without me. Life with lupus is just to hard I've applied for disability but in mean time I get medicaid and snap I had fight for that stuck in a marriage I don't want because he dosrny believe I am sick he even told doctor that I am faking I don't have family so why me why why does God make people like me to laugh at. People talk to no I don't they all left soon I got sick some friends or they just hang out with my husband in which everyone thinks he's a peach put with me. If they only new real story wait I made two mistake marring him and trusting people. I have no right attuide alone is much better. So why why I just want break so.e peace not lies with hidden agenda .

  • Dr Gary
    Dr GaryCA March 8, 2013 at 11:52 am   

    Hi garden creek,

    I felt very sad as I read your post. I am sorry that you have so little support in your life, that you are feeling so alone, and with so many challenges in your life. Lupus is a silent condiition, and so often I hear from individuals living with lupus how alone they feel, how misunderstood by people who should be understanding and supportive.

    But it also sounds to me like you may be feeling depressed. Here is a link to an article you might find helpful:

    I really encourage you to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling. Let him/her know what's going on in your life. Your doctor might have some suggestions. Have you looked into talking to a counselor? If you are on Medicaid, counseling may be covered. It could really help to talk to a mental health professional, who can listen and maybe give you some ideas on how to cope.

    You can really use some support. I hope you will stay in touch with your friends here on Lupus Connect. You are not alone.

    We are standing by.


  • Cootsgal
    Cootsgal March 8, 2013 at 11:38 am   

    I'm so sorry it's all so overwhelming for you and you don't have any support from the people around you. This site will help you tremendously but you also need someone close..perhaps a counsellor or a local support group where there's some real hugs or help. Don't take it all in as one big chunk, think about what you need to do the next minute, the next hour the rest of the day. Yesterday is past, tomorrow needs to be planned for but you are living today and whatever that brings, love yourself, recognize that God doesn't create junk and love your daughter with all your heart…that's how she loves you.

    I've always believed that when people have trials to go through, ultimately they will triumph because God will use their story to motivate, elevate and comfort other people. Our stories will change lives.

    But for today…it's just about today. Living is worth it…you are important.

    Gentle hugs to you…

  • Dr Gary
    Dr GaryCA March 8, 2013 at 11:58 am   

    This is really great advice, Cootsgal!

  • Cootsgal
    Cootsgal March 4, 2013 at 12:23 pm   

    Another awesome insight…building on the amazing foundation you have laid in your posts about living with whatever comes and not wasting precious time regretting or trying to change something that isn't yours to change. I love the "stop over" analogy and now when I have those moments of anger or sadness or other emotions that aren't necessarily good for me, I will think of them as a brief stop during the train journey of my life. It is time limited and ending with "goodbye and no, you are not invited to continue the journey with me". :) I have never thought "what did I do to cause this (lupus/fibro)?" because I know it was a hand I was dealt, not cards I picked. I didn't bathe in a vat of "lupus germs" or set my immune system button to warp speed with me as the target. I'm grateful to not have that guilt. I so look forward to your wisdom and insight, Dr. Gary, and you never fail to disappoint. Wishing you peace and joy in your own life. Thanks!

  • Dr Gary
    Dr GaryCA March 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm   

    Hi Cootsgal,

    I always really appreciate your encouragement. I suspect you are a source of encouragement and optimism for many people. As you said so well, we can accept our feelings but we don't have to identify with our feelings. They are just part of being human. We can make a choice to stay focused on what's possible, to be compassionate toward ourselves.

    Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. Wishing you peace and joy, too!


  • Tis Herself
    Tis Herself March 3, 2013 at 4:37 pm   

    Great post Dr. Gary!

    God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change…the Courage to change the things I can…and the Wisdom to know the difference.

    This is what comforts me.

  • Dr Gary
    Dr GaryCA March 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm   

    Hi Becky,

    I say the serenity prayer to myself often. Thanks for the reminder.