Therapy Blog

Regret

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We’ve all been there: We had a rotten day and we were at the end of our rope. And when a loved one asks us for an innocent favor, we snap at them only to feel terrible later when we cool off and realize they were not trying to take us for granted. It’s that sinking feeling that is often accompanied by embarrassment . . . regret or guilt. They are closely related.

An unnecessary judgement of self

Words like guilt and blame tend to imply malicious intent. Regret can quickly turn into guilt, so I’ll include it here as well; though, to me, regret does not typically include the judgment of one’s self as having been a bad person. It’s the addition of judgment of self that turns it into guilt.

Regret is more of an awareness of a misstep in thought and behavior. When we practice mindfulness we are better able to skip over the guilt part as we get to the point of just learning from mistakes. Remember, our discomfort (like self-judgement/guilt) is simply trying to eradicate itself by motivating us to do something different; in this case, if we do not learn from the mistake that we regret, our unconscious mind will add the judgment to help us learn the lesson.

This is very important: Once you realize what the guilt is trying to teach you, it is ok to let go of the judgment (and the regret!), even if that is tough. It takes practice. Self-forgiveness is something that can be taught, practiced and mastered. Do not give up on yourself!

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