Six Tips For Living With Less Regret

Living a life without regrets and being fair and kind to yourself is perfectly possible if you follow these tips.
Six Tips For Living With Less Regret

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Regret usually appears when there’s a discrepancy between your decisions and the consequences you expected to obtain from them. In other words, you regret when something doesn’t go according to plan, when you make a mistake, and, above all, when you miss certain opportunities. We’re going to give you some tips for living with less regret in your life.

You might feel regret when you remember that you could’ve based your decisions on stricter moral criteria. Or, that you should’ve performed certain actions in order to fulfill some kind of social duty. You might also experience it when you feel you haven’t been brave enough to take certain risks.

Therefore, it seems inevitable that you’ll experience this feeling at some point in your life. However, if you take the tips in this article into account, you’ll find it’s possible to live with less regret and guilt in your life.

Six tips for living with less regret

1. Practice self-love and self-acceptance

In the first place, letting your feelings of regret flourish can mean that you’re judging yourself too harshly and rigidly. After all, everyone makes mistakes. it’s what makes us human. Therefore, try to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Furthermore, don’t go over and over what you can’t change.

Remember that the decisions you made were based on the information you had at the time. Maybe today you have more experience and are able to think more clearly, and that makes you believe that you should’ve acted differently.

However, keep in mind that the person you are today has been formed thanks to those very decisions that you’re now regretting. Indeed, accepting yourself implies accepting versions of your past “me” as well.

Hand offering a heart

2. Stay present

Guilt that’s derived from regret is limiting and usually sustained over time. In addition, it’s usually associated with a harmful connection with the past. As a matter of fact, you tend to think of the future you might’ve had if only you’d made other decisions. In this way, regret means that you exclude the present from your mind.

Finding yourself again, along with the pleasure of living in the present and enjoying the simple moments of everyday life can be useful actions toward breaking your harmful relationship with the past. In fact, if you don’t do this, in the future, you’ll regret having missed these special moments in your daily life.

3. Express your emotions

Learning to express your emotions will allow you to share with others how your feelings of regret have affected you. Furthermore, this might mean that you receive the necessary support to overcome your negative perceptions associated with your sense of failure and guilt.

In addition, being able to express your emotions and desires will save you future feelings of regret. Telling your friends, family, or partner how much you love them and how important they are to you will help you maintain healthier and longer-lasting relationships. Additionally, expressing your gratitude will make you more aware of what surrounds you and you’ll be at peace with yourself and your environment.

It’s also important to be able to express your anger or disgust, but always in an assertive and respectful way. Often, your feelings of regret come from situations where you acted based on what others expected of you and not based on what you wanted. Learning to say “no” is a fundamental part of the process.

4. Learn to take risks

As we already mentioned, a recurring reason for the guilt that regret generates is having missed opportunities for fear of taking risks. The fear of failure often means you do nothing. This only leads to conformity, passivity, and apathy.

It’s perfectly normal to tend to avoid risks and always take the safest paths. However, there are times when it pays to dive headfirst into a situation and take a risk. Some of them may even bring you new opportunities.

It’s also important to accept support and advice from your loved ones. They’ll give you a different perspective and help you make the right decisions. Furthermore, you should try and fill your life with enriching experiences like nice meals, movies, and new activities.

5. Value your achievements

Value your achievements, both the extraordinary and the everyday. Try to focus on what you’ve done well.

It’s highly likely that, if you compare what you regret with what you’re proud of, you’ll realize that you’ve made extremely wise decisions at certain times in your life. Of course, you’ve made mistakes, like everyone else, but even those mistakes have allowed you to become who you are today.

Happy woman smiling

6. Don’t forget your sense of humor…

Finally, keep in mind that many of the things that go wrong ultimately turn into funny stories, or certainly end up teaching you something. Being able to laugh at your mistakes will make you more aware of them. It also helps you overcome them.

As a matter of fact, the positive use of humor is related to sociability, affection, and openness to new experiences.

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  • Aidan Feeney, Eoin Travers, Eimear O’Connor, Sarah R. Beck & Teresa McCormack (2018) Knowing when to hold ‘em: regret and the relation between missed opportunities and risk taking in children, adolescents and adults, Cognition and Emotion, 32:3, 608-615, DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2017.1326373
  • Katherine Gasdaglis (2021) Moral regret and moral feeling(s), Inquiry, 64:4, 424-452, DOI: 10.1080/0020174X.2019.1592701