Emotions and the Gut
In this month’s series, Eva Clark talks about our emotions, gut health, and MS. She addresses how our emotions influence our gut through our ‘molecules of emotion’ called neuropeptides. One of the impactful emotions that can ‘eat’ at us for months and even years is regret. In this month’s Creating Health Series, she takes us through an exercise to release regret.
What is regret?
Steve Andreas, neurolinguistic programming (NLP) trainer, defines regret as “an unpleasant feeling resulting from thinking about some action or inaction that had a negative impact on you”. So regret holds a few key factors. First, there was a choice to make – act on something or not act on something. Secondly, the choice we did follow, sometimes knowingly (deciding to move from your home town) and sometimes not (forgetting to check your bank account), has an undesired effect in our lives. And that undesired effect has some sort of consequences that violate our values (such as family time), outcomes (less retirement pay than we need), or our goals (to be healthy and fit). And because of that consequence, you feel bad. That is regret. And we compound the feeling by reminding ourself of the consequences, talking negatively to ourselves that ‘we should have known better’ and ‘if I would have…’ (kept exercising, my MS wouldn’t be so bad now for example) and comparing ourselves to others that we feel succeeded in this area of life. It can keep us from sleeping well, being pep in our step and grateful, and can significantly upset our stomachs.
But, when we become aware of how our choice created an undesired outcome, we, once again have a choice. Do we want to keep attending to the unpleasant consequences and hypothetical benefits of the other choice? And I call it hypnothetical because we imagine all the great results of the other outcome but we can’t be 100% sure that is what would happen if we had chosen differently. Life has many turns! Or we can chose to balance the choice we made, weighing in all the results and consequences evenly and then moving forward.
Balancing Regret in MS
We balance the unpleasant consequences and hypothetical benefits of the other choice we must add two more factors:
- What benefits did my choice give me? What became available because of the choice I made? In this area, including time constraints. More time at the gym or at the pool or cooking wholesome meals every night means less time somewhere else. With your kids or with friends, etc. Or living away from family might have given you business experience and exposure your home time would not have. Also, include here what you learned through this choice. Sometimes learning what not to do is a very important lesson. This learning allows us to have more awareness of what is important to us and allows us to make better choices now and in the future.
- Unpleasant consequences of the other choice we didn’t take. Including time constraints as well as opportunities that we wouldn’t have had if we picked the other choice.
Once you can see all 4 areas together, we can get a better picture of the choice and its consequences as well as opportunities. Then we can assess what we would like to do now and in the future from a place of awareness and knowing what is important to us and worth it to pursue.
You can download the chart below with the 4 quadrants to work through your regrets and come to a better understanding and choice about what to do now.
As she explains in the presentation, we can’t avoid regret, but we can manage it. First, we must understand that having choice will always mean that, many times, it doesn’t go as we would have liked it to. But its better to live in a country that allows us to chose where we live and work and to be responsible for our own lives and decisions, our own choices as much as we can.
“Having choice is better than not having choice.” NLP presupossition
Second, we need to remember that, the choice we made was what we thought was the best decision at the moment. We know now things we didn’t know then (about our values and priorities, the economy and stock market, what we’d be needing in the future, the state and needs of our health, etc).
“In every moment, we make the best choice we can* at the time”. NLP presuposition (* with the resources and knowledge we have available)
We need to learn and then move forward. Will I choose differently now? Oh yeah!
Creating Health Series
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This series, Creating Health in MS, is being recorded at the National MS Society Self-Help MS Group in Santa Cruz, CA. The National MS Society respects the rights of people with MS to obtain any and all information they want related to MS, including information on wellness, medical treatments or complementary therapies, and products or services. The information presented at these meetings does not necessarily reflect the views or official position of the Society, nor carry the endorsement or support of the NMSS.