Regret is a feeling that many of us have experienced, whether it’s in relation to something we said or did, or something we didn’t do at all. Regret can be generated by thoughts about our past and can come up again and again in a loop. Regret creates emotions like sadness, shame and regret; they don’t make you feel good but they do help you learn from your mistakes.
Regret is an emotion that’s generated from thoughts about something in the past.
Regret is an emotion that’s generated from thoughts about something in the past. It can be caused by a number of things, but when it comes to regretting something, you must always look at what happened and how it made you feel.
If we take a step back and look at this situation objectively, we might notice that our actions were not good ones. This is why they cause us so much pain: they do not reflect who we truly are. In fact, those actions went against everything we stand for as humans—kindness and compassion for others should have been our main priority throughout this experience.
Regret is unavoidable.
You’ll never regret something you don’t do. That’s what they say, right?
Well, as a general rule, they are right: Regret is unavoidable. The thing about regret is that it’s an emotion you feel when things go wrong and you wish they hadn’t. It’s not an emotion that comes from the things themselves; rather, it comes from how we perceive them—and how much we think those perceptions were influenced by our own actions or inaction.
That’s why regret is inevitable in life: Because we have control over what happens next! If we knew everything would turn out exactly as planned with no surprises at all, then there would never be any reason to feel regretful about anything ever again. But who knows if that will ever happen? And even if it did happen once upon a time (which would then make me incredibly jealous), what happens next? What new possibilities will arise from those past events?
Will someone else get stuck with such an amazing fortune instead of me?! Based on this logic alone I can confidently state that every single person reading this article has already experienced some degree of regret at least once today—and probably many more times before bedtime tonight too!
The same thoughts can create both regret and gratitude.
Here’s the thing: the same thoughts can create both regret and gratitude. You can be grateful for the same person that you regret. You can be grateful for the same situation that you regret. You can be grateful for the same experience that you regret.
I know this seems counterintuitive, but there are a couple of reasons why it happens and why it’s so important to understand it as a concept:
- These two things—regret and gratitude—are two sides of the same coin; they’re flip sides of each other!
- How we think about our past affects how we approach our future (and vice versa).
You replay the regret over and over again.
You replay the regret over and over again.
You can’t change the past, but you can change how you think about it. You have regrets. It’s normal to feel regret.
We all have regrets—even if we don’t talk about them or admit to having them, they exist nonetheless. I know that when I sit down at night and think of everything I wish had gone differently in my life so far, I get overwhelmed by a feeling of hopelessness.
But what if instead of beating yourself up for your mistakes, you used them as an opportunity to try harder next time? What if each time you were faced with a decision between doing something great or mediocre, instead of choosing mediocrity because it seems safer (and less likely to lead to regret), what if you choose greatness instead?
Regret involves a wish for things to be different than they are.
You might be thinking, “But what about regret? Isn’t that a negative emotion?” Yes, it’s true: regret involves a wish for things to be different than they are. When you experience regret, you feel sad or disappointed because of the outcome of an event in the past. For example, if your friend forgets your birthday and doesn’t get you a present (or even call), then you might feel sad because your friend forgot to acknowledge the day in any meaningful way. Or perhaps Mom forgot to mail the birthday card with money inside until after your birthday was over—and now it’s too late! You’d probably feel pretty disappointed in Mom for that one!
Regret is also thought of as being similar to remorse or guilt; all three emotions can involve sorrow about something bad that happened in the past and wishing things had gone differently than they did. However, there are some key differences between feelings of guilt versus feelings of remorse versus feelings of regret: Guilt tends towards thoughts such as “I’m a bad person” while regret tends towards thoughts like “I made a mistake and now I have regrets”—thoughts which may both come from actions but don’t necessarily mean they’re related concepts themselves!
It’s okay to feel regret as a part of loss.
Regret, as a part of loss, is something that we all feel. There’s no way around it. As much as we want to forget about the bad things that happened in our lives and focus on the good ones, sometimes it’s hard to do so because of what we went through.
The thing about regret is: You can’t change the past. Sure, you can try to find ways to justify what happened or how it could have been different than how it was (we’re not saying don’t do this!), but at the end of the day, there are some things that just weren’t meant to be and there’s nothing you can do about them now—regardless of whether they were good or bad experiences for you personally. The important thing here is not just accepting this fact but also using your regrets as learning tools so they don’t become roadblocks standing between yourself and happiness in your future relationships with others!
Sometimes you can’t make peace with regret.
I want to start by saying that I am not advocating for regret. Regret is a waste of time and energy, but it can be hard to resist the pull of it. There are times when you cannot make peace with regret because there is nothing you can do about it.
- You cannot change the past
- You cannot change other people’s decisions
- You cannot change your own decisions
- You cannot change what you did or didn’t do
The only thing you can change is how you think about it.
You can find ways to use your regrets to help others.
The truth is, no matter how much regret you have over a particular decision, the damage has already been done. There’s no going back in time and changing things—you can only move forward from where you are now. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to learn from your regrets and use them as steppingstones toward helping others. Here are four ideas:
- Share your regrets with others
- Ask for help when you need it
- Be willing to ask forgiveness when needed
- Try again after making mistakes
You can’t always change the past but you can change how you think about it, or what you do with those regrets now.
You can’t change the past, but you can change how you think about it.
I don’t regret this decision. It was the right choice at the time, even though in retrospect it was clearly a mistake that led to our breakup and my subsequent depression. But I’m happy now! And I wouldn’t trade that for anything!
It’s important to remember that there are no easy answers when it comes to regret. It can be hard, but you have to accept that it’s part of life. Different people deal with regret differently and each situation is unique. Whether you choose to move on or let go of your regrets, try not to beat yourself up over it!