There is a common life philosophy—one should live free of regrets because regret creates unhappiness, and past actions are beyond one’s control. While the former statements are true, there is another (perhaps better) reason that people should try not to rue their past acts. Whenever you make a decision, you are making what you believe to be the best one with the information you have at that point in time. The saying “hindsight is 20/20” means, that, with the knowledge, wisdom and emotional distance, you might conclude differently and by extension, act in another way than you previously did.
We constantly make decisions all the time, actually, most are unconscious. Even if the choice made was, in retrospect, a “bad” one (although that is a relative term), it was made because you genuinely thought it was for the best. It is our nature to take care of ourselves. Even when someone does something that is constituted as “self-sabotage” such as, passively-aggressively ruining a relationship or intentionally missing an opportunity, there is some reason he or she has done so.
People don’t hurt themselves for no reason. Many times an avoidance relates to fear of rejection or getting emotional entwined with something, or someone. This is a defense mechanism. Arguably, not a very good one in the longterm, but it keeps people within their comfort zones and protects them from their fears.
We can always learn from past mistakes, and apply that knowledge to the present and future. It’s important to be compassionate to yourself and give yourself the benefit of the doubt, and not chastise yourself for past errors. Most importantly, accepting mistakes or your past means that you can be compassionate towards yourself, and move on from more difficult times. The most unlikable and miserable people you’ll meet are this way because they don’t like themselves.
Or, as RuPaul so wisely said, “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?”