Home Personal development How to deal with regret (15 simple tips)

How to deal with regret (15 simple tips)

by Vidya Sury April 21, 2020 14 comments
How to deal with regret

Regret is something we can all relate to. I mean, who doesn’t have them? And of course, we are always wishing we could deal with regret and move on. How many of us feel bad about missed opportunities? How often do we wish we could take back the things we’ve said and done?

Regrets pile up over the years. Most of them relate to not doing something we should have. And often, fear is the greatest cause of regret. The fear of failure, fear of looking stupid.

We can’t undo or redo the past, but we can certainly make the future better.

It is not difficult to prevent or overcome regret when we are ready to take full responsibility for our lives.

15 tips to deal with regret

Here are 15 tips to deal with regret and move on with life

1. Practice gratitude

Regret basically involves looking back and feeling bad over what we did or did not do. Practicing gratitude helps with recognizing the good things in life. And it can be a good remedy for regret.

2. Stay away from toxic people

Some people, you just have to sign the zero-tolerance contract because all they want to do is make you feel bad. Fill you with regrets. Always leave you with a sense of being inadequate. You’ll have fewer regrets if you surround yourself with kind, loving people. Avoid those who make you miserable.

3. Focus on the present

Regret can fill our minds and our time. The result? We end up just wallowing in the past and the could’ve beens and should’ve beens. Focus your attention on the present. On today and what you can accomplish. Make the most of the present moment.

4. Apologize

Did you say or do something you regret? Rather than wonder how to deal with regret, speak up and tell them you are sorry. Maybe that’s all you need to do to resolve the issue.

5. Seek to improve yourself

Regrets are usually a sign that there’s room for improvement in your life. Take stock of yourself and introspect. What things can you change that will make you feel less regretful in the future? There’s always scope for making life better, right?

6. Be bolder

Who does not regret taking more chances in the past? If you said yes, then maybe you can prevent it from happening in the future by being more courageous, starting right now. If you regret not speaking up in the past, then it is time to change that. Sure, it is not always easy to say what’s on your mind, but neither is it easy to live with the regret of not saying it. So, be bold.

7. Plan to succeed

The past has but one purpose = to teach us life lessons. Learn from it and move on. Rather than dwell in the past, focus on building a life you enjoy and respect. Set goals. Creating a great life is an effective way to deal with regret.

There are no regrets Only lessons

8. Accept where you are

When you decide to accept where you are, you will find it easier to move forward and create the life you want. You can choose between being stuck or moving ahead.  

9. Take responsibility

Remember that it is okay to make mistakes. Accept that fact and take responsibility for your regret. And thereby, take responsibility for your future as well.

“We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.”
― Steve Maraboli

10. Make the most of each day

Sure, life is short. But even though we know that, we still don’t make the most of our time. If we think back, imagine the amount of time we have wasted over, say, the last ten years. Imagine what we could have accomplished with just 30 minutes a day during this time. Better late than never, though. Take a few moments at the end of the day to reflect on what you have accomplished today. What could you finish? How much time did you waste? How did you waste it?

11. Take risks

We tend to regret the things we didn’t do more than the thing we did. How to deal with it? Be courageous and take calculated risks. Try new things. Open yourself up to new people. What’s that thing you keep wanting to do? Do it. Less worrying. More living.

12. Be true to yourself

What are your values and goals? Are you doing things even though you know in your heart that they aren’t right? Trust your intuition. If you stop to think, you’ll find that most of the things you regret doing in life – were usually things that you knew you should not be doing. Am I right? So, make a list of your values. Be aware of them. Before you do something that seems not quite right, pause and remember your values.

“One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want you to be, rather than being yourself.”
Shannon L. Alder

13. Go easy on impulse

The direct result of most impulsive actions is regret. We say something we shouldn’t have, do something we wish we hadn’t – and the next thing we know – we’re dealing with regret. Emotional distress follows. And that’s usually a state were good decision-making is difficult. So, think before you act impulsively.

14. Grow

When we’re stuck in a rut, we are usually filled with regret over what might have been. As we grow older, we also experience personal growth. Just look back over the past ten years. Are you the same person now as you were back then? If you said yes, it is time to get on the path to personal growth. Rather than deal with regret, Invest time in yourself to grow, to reach your full potential. And that means taking action.

15. Be honest

What a big word—honesty! It is not just about being truthful in words but also with opinions and beliefs. It is about living your won truth. When you are open and honest, people trust you, understand you and your interactions with others are much better. You enjoy happier relationships, and spend less time having to deal with regret.

Look, nobody can escape life without regret. While we cannot predict how long we will live, we can definitely make the most of our time. Invariably, regrets come from making poor decisions. But then, being over-cautious also does not help. Live bold. Minimize regrets.

Deal with regret Live without regret

Here is something to reflect on, to deal with regret

  • What will you regret the most as you grow older?
  • What do you regret right now?
  • How will you deal with regret?
  • What are you willing to do to ensure you have fewer regrets in the future?
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Felicia Austin April 24, 2020 at 10:14 am

I used to always say I don’t regret anything because the choices I made in my past made me who I am today. That is until my brother passed last year. I regret every single day not being there for him. I regret not calling him more and visiting him more. I regret not being around in his time of need. I don’t know how to live with these regrets sometimes and it kills me. I don’t know how to get past this. I’m hoping one day I can but for now all I can do is take it one day at a time and keep going to counseling. I pray one day I will be regret-less again

Shilpa Garg April 24, 2020 at 1:05 pm

Aah! The regret… for the things you did that you wish you hadn’t, and the things you wish you had done but didn’t.
I have seen that regret makes us live in the past and that’s pretty detrimental for our well being. Agree about focusing on the present, accepting the past and learning the lessons from the experiences! Thanks for the reminder, Vidya!
Shilpa Garg recently posted…Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Lauren Kinghorn April 24, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Shoo, Vidya… every time I read a post of yours, you make me think deeply about my life and my life choices. That bit about toxic people was really telling. I love your idea of the zero-tolerance contract and that’s definitely one I want to work on.

I popped over to read that post as well and noticed there’s someone in my life who ticks way too many of those boxes and makes me understand why I feel like I do sometimes – filled with self-doubt, second-guessing myself.

Number 13, go easy on impulse, resonated with me as well because its when I’m impulsive that I make mistakes I regret later.

You’ve given me a lot of food for thought my friend. When is your book coming out? Do you coach women through this stuff?
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read high-quality product April 25, 2020 at 3:15 am

Being honest to yourself is the best way to deal with regrets, in my opinion, you just need to be truly honest and not finding excuses for yourself.

Elle Sommer May 1, 2020 at 2:17 am

I think your images about regret are super cool Vidya. Funny how so many of us are happy to carry the burden of regret. One of the things that helps me is to look for what was wonderful in the thing that might be considered regretful (if there is such a thing lol). I might not see the wonderful thing straight away, but pretty soon if I keep looking, there it is. It really helps me let go and truly move on.

Debbie L Hampton May 1, 2020 at 5:57 am

Regret is so toxic and a waste of mental energy. It is helpful to process and transform it with one of the suggestions you have here. I like the philosophy of having lessons – not regrets. If you can learn something from the experience – no matter how bad – it has purpose and meaning.
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Cathy Taughinbaugh May 2, 2020 at 12:14 am

You have a great list here of ideas to help with regrets, Vidya. I have found that rather than thinking of something as a regret if I consider that I may have learned from the experience, that is more helpful. To harbor too long over a regret I feel keeps a person stuck and in a negative frame of mind. I also love your images!

Sandra Pawula May 4, 2020 at 3:06 am

This is such an important topic, Vidya. Thanks for addressing it. We definitely don’t want to have regrets when we die, it will be too late to address them at that point. The time to deal with regrets is rights now. I love your suggestions. I especially like the reminder that we can always go back and say we’re sorry. Even if the person has died, we can write a letter to them expressing our regrets, and it will help us heal and let go.
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Anna Roman May 8, 2020 at 11:12 am

Hi Vidya,
This is a wonderful article. These points you have gathered are very informative. I want to ask is there any difference between guilt and regret? and should we hire a life coach to deal with regrets and guilts?

Vidya Sury May 26, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Hi Anna! Welcome and thank you for your kind words.
Yes, there is a difference between guilt and regret. While guilt stems from doing something we know isn’t the right thing to do at that moment, regret is usually the outcome of knowing we should have done something differently from how we did it. Like making the wrong choice.

Kenn July 25, 2020 at 9:25 pm

All those years I’ve always carried my regrets and it became a burden in my life, Hoping someday I can move on with my life. Thanks for sharing this Vidya with these tips I can finally move on with my life.

Aakash Shahakar October 6, 2020 at 6:09 pm

Perfect tips on how to deal with regret. Great work
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Meltblogs December 9, 2020 at 4:42 pm

Your articles are always rocking, and your deep knowledge about mental health is wonderful. Loved it.
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Sara April 19, 2021 at 3:37 pm

Thank you for sharing, those are some great tips to learn to deal with regret, and I especially think living in the present moment is important!
Sara recently posted…What Is An Old Soul? 12 Signs You’re One


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