5 Things To Remember When You Feel Haunted By Regret

Photo: getty
5 Things To Remember When You Feel Haunted By Regret

We all make mistakes and experience regret in life. Otherwise, how would we grow if we didn't make the odd hi-cup here and there?

Perhaps you’ve had a colorful past or have done something controversial in your life. Unless you're a psychopath, you'll have some kind of remorse or regret and will often avoid making the same mistake ever again.

To learn how to deal with regret, you have to recognize the consequences of what you did or didn’t do. It's natural to have these emotions to establish what you would do differently next time.

RELATED: 6 Ways To Ditch Regret For Good And Focus On Your Amazing Future

Feeling regret is normally related to a deep sense of failure, guilt, or fear. These are emotional states in which you are consciously punishing yourself about a situation or experience that is in the past.

But you do have absolute control over how you feel about the past. It’s a little useless blaming anyone else as the shift in perspective starts with you.

Many people spend time thinking through the tiny details and repetitively recounting the scenario over in their minds. But what use is it when you can’t change anything?

Of course, having some kind of remorse or regret allows you to reflect on the situation and learn from it.

Try not to spend all your time beating yourself up about it, though. Take some action to rectify it if it will make you feel better.

Here are 5 things to remember when you feel haunted by regret.

1. Feeling regret is a form of self-punishment like internal suicide.

Spending time constantly bombarding yourself with "what ifs," "buts," "should’ves," "and could’ves," is a futile waste of time and energy.

When you do this, you dwell on the past, focusing on negative thoughts and emotions. This is very much a form of self-punishment.

When you spend countless hours recalling a memory of what you said or did, the mind will return to the memory, distorting, exaggerating, and deleting parts of the situation.

Your mind is influenced by your perception and memory of what you said. Then, you may try to assume what the another person was thinking or how they may have been judging you.

If you've received feedback around a situation that caused you to feel annoyed and frustrated at yourself, what could you do to help the situation, apart from going over it in your mind like a washing machine? Could you take positive action somewhere?

If you’re the sort of person who goes over the tiniest details of your own behavior, remember that everyone has a unique and diverse filtering system, sieving information through their senses and digesting it in congruence with their own beliefs and value system.

For example, someone who has a real lack of self-esteem could interpret a simple comment the wrong way, and it could ruin their entire day.

But someone with a high level of confidence is most likely to interpret the same comment very differently and probably forget about it within an hour.

So, unless you know whether or not you have caused any upset, try not to waste any more brainpower. Instead, do or say something nice next time you see that person.

2. You don't learn unless you make a mistake.

It's impossible to have personal growth and expansion if you don’t appreciate what you interpret as a mistake to be a learning experience.

If you said or did something, avoid blaming others. Rather, take responsibility for what could’ve been better handled.

Blaming others or going down the "he said/she said" route is a road to nowhere. Instead, break the cycle and look at ways you can take responsibility and set an example.

When you make a mistake or do something which you later regret, notice what you can learn from the situation happening.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before? What would you do differently in the future?

Did the situation allow you to understand something about yourself or someone else in a different way?

3. Regret increases stress levels, which is bad for your health.

You will chew over the situation in your mind, replaying the movie like it’s stuck on replay with no remote control to change the channel.

Would you sit and watch repeats of the same frame on a movie or television program continuously? More likely, you would pick up the remote control and let the program continue forward so you can enjoy it — a bit like enjoying your future.

Regret is like worry — wasted energy. Both are detrimental to your health and well-being.

When you create stress and worry, you release adrenaline and hormones which pump around your body knocking you out of balance. Try to get some focus and appreciate all the good things you have done or said instead of focusing on the negative.

RELATED: How To Move On From Relationship Regrets (& Avoid Them In Future Relationships)

4. Beware of negative thinking.

Your emotions are powerful. Associating an emotion with something you think about constantly is the key ingredient of manifesting more negativity.

When you tell yourself off for saying or doing something, you are automatically sending messages to your unconscious mind where it will continue attracting the same dense energy vibration.

Try to shift your thoughts to those on a more positive level. Forgive yourself for the situation and move on.

You will never make the same mistake twice. If you do, it will be because of personal self-sabotage.

5. Take responsibility for what you did or how you feel.

There's nothing more forgiving and sincere than when you own up to a mistake and take responsibility for something you did. Even if there was a misunderstanding and you feel that the other person owes you an apology as well, why not lead the way and be the conscientious one?

Many people struggle with apologizing because they fear they will be rejected in some way. However, most people are compassionate and appreciate the magnetism that apologizing creates.

People don’t like to hold burdens as it pulls on their energy resources. When you forgive someone else or even yourself, you release the density helping you feel lighter and more positive as a result.

If you notice yourself falling into the past frequently, write out the answers to these questions:

  • What would happen if you hadn’t done or said what you did?
  • What did you learn from the situation that happened?
  • What would you do or say differently next time?
  • How can you move forward?
  • Write a list of all the nice things you have said or done for someone in the past.

RELATED: 5 Key Steps To Forgiving Yourself For True Freedom

Caroline Rushforth is a certified NLP Coach and life coach with over 10 years' experience helping super-caring women who are overwhelmed with worry, negative thoughts, and low self-esteem. She offers a free 30-minute consultation via Zoom or Skype. Send her an email at

This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.