How to deal with regret in a positive manner

If regret is plaguing your thoughts, you’re not alone. Sitting with regret however can make things worse, chipping away at our sense of self.

Here we look at some tips to help you deal with regret in a more positive way.

Remember, you only act on the information you have at the time

Sometimes circumstances change, so when you look back on things you may feel like you should have made a different decision. But how would you have known this at the time?

You need to try and stop being so hard on yourself. At the time, you felt that you were picking the best choice. Even in the next few days you will make choices that will affect your future, so aim to look forward instead of back.

Stay in the present

People often like to think about the future or ruminate on the past. Instead of thinking about things that could happen in the future or what has happened in the past, we should focus on the present and enjoy the moment we are in. This can help up feel grateful and reduce feelings of regret.

Consider the consequences of your actions

Saying “yes’ to one thing could mean you have to say “no” to others. We all want good relationships, fun and recognition. Unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day, so we have to make sacrifices.

When you say yes to something, consider what you’re saying no to and if this aligns with your values and priorities. This can help you take control of your decisions and reduce the chance of regret.

Recognise your current priorities

At certain periods of your life you typically want to focus on different things, such as fun, career, money, family etc.

Looking back and wishing your past self spent time doing something else isn’t helping matters. Try to recognise that imposing your current values on your past self doesn’t make sense.

Our values change as we get older. Even now you might be focusing on something that your future self wouldn’t do. It’s fine – what’s important is that your current values align with what you are doing.

If you think you would benefit from support in understanding your values and priorities, you may find it helpful to work with a coach. Use our search tool to find a coach today.

Updated 15/12/2022

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Written by Ross East
Written by Ross East
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