Regret. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the word, a different definition. What does it mean to you? What does it mean to me? Funny you should ask.

At night, I lie down in bed and the tightening in my stomach begins. Then comes the burn. Breathing? Almost non-existent at this point. My mind races at a million miles per hour, and my eyes stare through the ceiling. My husband tries tracing his fingers through my hair, but it doesn’t help. I’ve been here before, and I know that there isn’t any relief. I will be stuck thinking about all my regrets for hours.

The thing is, there are a million things that get shoved in our faces every single day about what we should have done, about what we should be doing. Images, commercials, quotes, blog posts, Facebook posts. We all think we know the secret to having the best life possible, and yet we all have regret. Do we give in to temptation? Or do we not? We’ll regret it if we do, and we’ll regret it if we don’t. I’ll tell you what: I’ve given in to plenty of temptations, taken the roads less traveled, taken the bait … and I’ve done the opposite. I’ve stayed home, I’ve watched opportunities pass me by, and I’ve taken the safe road. Guess what? I regret both. I regret all sides. I regret doing things and I regret the things I let pass me by.

So what is the correct answer? And how the hell do I let things go?

Maybe there isn’t an answer. Maybe we all just have to do the best we can, take some chances, skip some chances, and hope for the best. I used to work in a nursing home and formed close bonds with many of the residents. And you know what? I rarely met a person that didn’t have a regret or three … but I also rarely met one that let those regrets keep them up at night. Most looked back on their lives fondly; keeping the memories alive by sharing stories of love, of family, of the lives they led that had bumps, but were wonderful nonetheless. Could it be that our regrets are simply making room for better opportunities in the future? That the things we wish we would or would not have done, will not be the things we focus on in the end?

How do we know?

For this week’s upcoming guest post, I want to hear YOUR thoughts on regret. What it means to you, what you do about yours, and how you think we overcome it. If interested, click here.


23 thoughts on “Regret

  1. I have my fair share of regret that’s for sure. Much of it stems from my perceived character flaws (being too shy, unwilling to take real big risks, etc.) that have led to okay choices but probably not the better choices. Some have simply been wrong choices but find it’s too late to change those specific things. The only thing is to work to change those areas of my life but that’s difficult. I also work hard to not have regret really because it’s such a waste of energy and time that I need going forward with my life – ha! So much easier said than done. I think the big thing is focusing on the here and now and not spending too much time thinking on the past because it’s just that – the past. You can’t change the past, you can only learn from it, apply what you’ve learned so you can do better today. That’s what I’m working hard to do.

      • Oh I know. That’s when I’m left alone with just my thoughts and they tend to run wild mulling over things I just don’t need to. It’s definitely an effort, but I’m hoping it’s one that pays off in the end. I’m also a bit odd in that I worry too much about the future also (my clock’s been ticking since about 25 lol) so yeah, that makes my regrets that much worse. I have no future because of my past mistakes kind of thing. It’s ridiculous. Recognizing it is the first step in addressing it, so I’m sure you’ll figure it out. 🙂

  2. I really do believe doing the best we can is the answer. It’s easy to see what could have been done better after the fact, but we also have to have the experience to gain that wisdom. Doing the best we can and remembering we did the same yesterday, and last year, can be a huge relief from the burden of regret, which takes away from the present and future with 0% possibility of changing the past.

    The movie About Time actually addresses these questions beautifully, come to think of it!

  3. I regret not posting a comment sooner… But really the world always looks better, where you are not. I think the trick is just to enjoy it and not worry about where you haven’t been or things you haven’t done.

  4. Honestly, I don’t do regret. My thoughts on things I have or have not done prior to this very moment are usually in a positive light. Everything I did or didn’t do led to this very moment and at this very moment I am happily married to a man who treats me very well and nurtures my need to keep moving around and experiencing new places and cultures. It feeds my soul and my life is in a good place.

    There are things I wish were different and I constantly look at ways to change those things but I don’t look back and wish I had done things differently before now. It just doesn’t seem productive to me. Why linger on things you can’t change instead of focusing on things you can change? If you feel bad about something, make it right. If you wish you had said something different, say it the way you meant it.

    When you look back on the day at the end of the night, make a list of the things that come up that you wish you’d done/said differently and how you plan to move forward from them, then leave it in the past. Tomorrow, work on those things you can “repair”….for lack of a better word. Be thankful for the new day given to you and be mindful of what you can do with it.

  5. I wish I could say I didn’t do regret – in fact, I used to tell myself that I didn’t regret anything. But, in fact, I do. And I think that in not regretting some things, we repeat them. Balance, it’s a struggle and something I remind myself of daily, with a tattoo on my arm that reads “koyannisqatsi” – “life out of balance”. We all live out of balance, I think the key is try and achieve it. But we always find ourselves tilted one way or the other. And no, I don’t regret that tattoo – and that’s true for that at least that one thing.

  6. These are great questions. It is normal to feel regret from time to time, and it can actually be a healthy thing. In fact, I recall feeling it just yesterday. However, if I allowed myself to swim in it, I would drown. I try to remember to accept the feeling and then move on because whatever I did or didn’t do was for the right reason at the time, and I am headed down the path I am meant to follow. Perhaps if I did or did not do the thing I regret, I would be worse off in other ways. Who knows?

    Great post! xo

  7. Is there an email that I can send my post to? I have a picture and website that I would like to include in my post. (Thanks for doing this by the way- great opportunity for me to gather my thoughts).

  8. Regret always come late. It is normal to regret something, but the way you act after regretting has the most impact in your life. One thing to keep in mind is that you lose the battle when you’re not moving on.


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