Moving from Regret to Regrowth

regret to regrowthRegret is part of a sense of loss that we carry in ourselves. Regret and shame are often related.

Remember the time you said something and later regretted saying it? Or you wish that you had responded differently to a situation and believe that there is nothing you can do about it right now? Regret is a contributing factor to feeling bad, depressed, and anxious. Combine that with obsessive thinking and you are living in a very crowded emotional room.

Let’s change the way you hold the regret. Yes, you can change your brain and your body’s response to what you tell it.

Moving from Regret to Regrowth: 

Regret keeps you in the same place: unrelenting and taunting, teasing you with memories that just won’t stop!

1. When the memory of the regretful moment rears it’s ugly head, stop the thought: change it: go into the thought of the regret, ask: Is there anything I can do about it Right Now? Probably the answer is NO- This is where you can change the thought:

(Say to yourself) Since there is absolutely nothing I can do about it right now, thinking about it will not change my Scenario of Regret. I need to focus on the here and now and be present in this moment.

Best way to do this:

Look around a room and identify the objects in the room. One object at a time: start with anything that is in the room or on your person: ie count the threads on a couch, the dots on wall paper. Remember to keep breathing while you do this exercise.

Why it works?

It keeps you focused and it inhibits the thoughts from bursting into your brain. You have begun to change the way you hold the regret. 

If you believe that you can “redo” the moment of regret. Then do it. No, don’t burst in and say I didn’t mean to … and fill in the blanks- think about how you want that redo moment to go- What do you regret? How would you have done it differently? Would it be possible to have another go at it? If not, then write a letter to yourself about how you would do it differently?

2. Since there is nothing I can do about it right now, how disturbing is it to me right now on a scale from 1-10?

1-4: know that in time it will fade away. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and then use it as a tool for growth.

5-7: Your regretful thoughts probably intrude upon your daily living more than you would like. Your thoughts stop you from being present in the moment. Make a daily date with Mindfulness Moments. Your brain needs you to begin to rewire it! Yes, the brain can change!

8-10: Totally obsessed! Do the mindfulness exercises and… If obsessing is part of your daily life how does it interrupt you from your life? For some people, medication can be helpful. Other ways of learning to cope with a totally obsessed life is do self-hypnosis or cognitive therapy. You can change how you cope with being obsessed. Work for inner peace and change your brain!


How does holding on to regret affect mental health?

The more you hold onto regret the more of a hold it has on you. You live in the past instead of the present. Eckhart Tolle speaks about the past, the future and the here and now, (paraphrasing.) in the past and you are depressed, live in the future and you are anxious, live in the present and you find peace.

Holding onto regret gives voice to your inner critic. Affecting your ability to take risks in the future or inhibiting you from letting go of emotional binds that keep you stuck. Let go of regret and learn to self soothe and develop a stronger sense of self.


  1. Edy–your comments ring so true! I have noticed that feelings of regret very rapidly activate my shame and rage gremilins, who then are very difficult to quiet. It IS all about turning ones mind away from the negative thoughts and putting oneself in the present moment. Only in this space can I regain a sense of calm (both physically and mentally) and reassure myself that that the bad choice I made (i.e. my behavior) does not imply that I am a bad person…

  2. My alcoholic father and life experience have been my greatest teachers. Dad, thank you for showing me the darkest parts of me – shame, doubt, fear, anger and emotional void – which has served as my greatest inspiration toward personal growth, spirituality, and joy. As a loner throughout my youth, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect upon life circumstances. In the midst of constant confusion and doubt, I questioned everything from religion, sexuality, and our family values. Since I could never do anything right, I stopped trying to please others and chose my own path which was tough but freeing and necessary for my own experience and learning. Your lack of love allowed me to experience the self hatred you experienced which eventually helped me understand love, forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion for others and myself. The emptiness I felt awakened the warrior within to seek guidance, resources, and take actions to stop being a victim. I became self aware of fears and patterns keeping me stuck and aware of my strengths and tools that could be used to create the life of my dreams. As I go around the wheel of life, I am sometimes forced to swallow my pride and accept help which teaches me the importance of balance. The lessons from such experiences have revealed my passion and purpose in life so I can advocate for causes that resonate with me. So, you were the catalyst for change that set me on a journey to know God, myself, and truth. That kind of peace is a wonderful gift! Since embarking on this journey, teachers show up at the right time. If I say “yes” to that opportunity, I get the gift of a new experience. Experience (good and bad) is the ultimate teacher. It teaches me to be in the moment and learn the lessons for personal growth. My curiosity and life’s synchronicities send me further down the path of authenticity. I’ve learned to trust that my intuition is sending me on the journey to exactly where I am supposed to be. The gift of divine timing (those little miracle surprises that show up right when you need) lets me know I’m on the right path. Life is a trip, and these days I’m just enjoying the ride.

  3. oh Jody! Thank you for sharing your soul”s journey!


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