A Strong Method to Get Past Regret

Posted on September 12, 2017

Most of us will have done things we regret in life. Some of these can be big regrets. For example, staying in a toxic relationship, or having to file for bankruptcy. You may keep thinking of how things may have turned out differently if you had made a different - and better - decision.

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, an integrative trauma therapist, mentions that long-term regret is usually linked with shame and self-blame. Staying fixed on our regrets distract us from the underlying pain associated with the decision. For example, a person may find it easier to regret dropping out of college than face the terrifying prospect of not finding a good job.

Reagan proposes doing a journaling exercise to help move past your regrets. These are the steps:

1) Write down the decision you regret.

2) Reflect on the reason for the regret.

3) Write down the reason you made the decision when you made it. Do this in the perspective of someone who is kind and empathetic towards you. Reagan gives an example of the regret of dropping out of university. You can write that university was tough because of the workload and new environment. Taking some time off was the best decision you could think of at the time when you were struggling.

4) Think about whether you would do things differently in the future. Write your response down.

5) Think about the aspects of your regret you can control and change. For example, you can enroll in university again if you wish. Reagan also gives examples like reflecting on the things that you didn’t like about a past relationship, or educating yourself on how to communicate with your children if you regret screaming at them.

Our regrets often are made up of layers of our fears and shame at how our lives are in the present, who we were or who we wanted to be. However, it is fact that humans make mistakes, even if the end-results may be hard to swallow. This is good – if humans are not able to make mistakes, we would not improve and remain stagnant. Mistakes allow us to grow.


Category(s):Self-Care / Self Compassion, Self-Criticism

Source material from Psych Central


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