ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Let Go of Regret

Updated on July 17, 2013

driving your car backwards

a picture of regret


Pick off your Ticks

I was in New Mexico recently. Before you go to this land of tan and rock, everyone will tell you “The sunsets are incredible. You’ll feel like you have gone to a new planet.” Great. I’m a Chicago kid and I know New Mexico sunsets because I’ve seen the steel mill sundowns and packing house gray smokiness of a west wind coming from south side slaughter rooms. Now THAT is a different planet!

It’s funny how New Mexico sunsets and regret are really one in the same. The sunsets change from green to purple to pink, just like regrets change with each mistake one makes. If it’s not being an absent parent, it’s eating three pieces of cheese cake for supper and then wondering why the weight around one’s belly packs the pounds on. Jodi Picoult says “Living in regret is like driving a car that only goes backwards”.

So what is regret? Why do we experience it? What can we do to alleviate it? These are simple questions with difficult answers. Looking at the questions with loving eyes may offer insight into this most deadly of all mental conditions.

From a Choice Theory point of view regret occurs when the images of our lives and the scenes of our mind are out of balance. What we want does not match up to what we have. The divorced parent wanted a Norman Rockwell family, but achieved a Viet Nam firefight. The remembrance of these firefight moments causes an emotion that does not feel good. Essentially, “If only. The two saddest words in the English Language”, according to Lackley.

Where does regret stem from? Many therapists discuss role of the past. Others reflect on the idea of mistaken choices or misinterpreted information. The bottom line is this; regret comes from the realization that one has made choices that showed fallibility. The universe has slapped our face to remind us that we are not GOD. Given the fact that we all have the strong desire to control our world, this makes complete sense. It’s the whole three year old who didn’t get what he wanted disappointment routine. “What I got and what I wanted are different, so I’ll tantrum”. The problem is that most often, the tantrum takes on inner forms. Guilt, depression, addiction… can you relate?

Regret is a wood tick sized pebble that walks with a person each day until the cigarette of forgiveness burns it out or the regretter develops Lyme disease. It’s as simple as that. The prescription is as painful as the heat of the cigarette, and as welcome as an ice cube on the forehead of a New Mexico cowboy at 4:00 in the afternoon. Get the picture?

Dealing with regret is never easy, and yet it’s as simple as remembering two concepts. Concept one is profound. As you read this, take the test and see if you can discover the concept for yourself. Start by looking at your hand. Notice the skin. What color is it? How is it made? What scars does the hand show? How does it feel when you rub your fingers over it? Stop reading and take the test.

What have you noticed? If you really worked hard you will have discovered profundity number one. You….are…human. You make mistakes. You screw up. You goof up. Does it feel good to know that you are in the vast majority of all the people who have ever walked the earth?

Concept two is more difficult to embrace. It requires persistence and a mode of travel. Car, bike, space shuttle, will all do. To discover this concept, begin by grabbing your credit card and some high carb food, as you’ll need the energy. Go outside and find some clouds. In certain areas, you may have to travel a distance to begin the exercise. Once the clouds have been found begin chasing them. Wherever the clouds go, follow them. Quit and you fail. After a day or so ask yourself this question: “Will I ever be able to catch these clouds?” If the answer is “yes”, stop reading, continue traveling, and let me know when you finish. If “no”, you have discovered the second concept. Chasing the past is nothing more than chasing clouds, so why bother?

When a person reads the regret literature, most strategies relate to journaling, talk therapy, acceptance or other external attempts and revisiting the past. Here is a new paradigm. When memories of guilt and shame fill your life, ask the question “Is this getting me what I want?” Ask this question consciously. Know that you are asking it, as this conversation is not meant to be a metaphysical waste of time. If you answer an honest “yes”, then enjoy yourself and fill your mind and spirit with all the regret you can handle.

After asking the question, talk aloud about where the regret is on your body. Is it in your heart, your chest, your diaphragm? Regret is a real person because you made it so. What is the best way to have a conversation? So, have it with your friend Regret. When you are done, say “good bye” and “See you next time”. I write these last paragraphs in complete seriousness.

Here’s the very bottom line, how long will you be alive? How long will you be dead? Can you bring back one second of the past? Is living in the past getting you the love you deserve in this present? Is your pain worth your pain? If it is, then feel it, beat yourself, and maybe, when you are done, someone will place a statue in church for you. Wanna bet?

Thus, when in regret, know it. Feel it. Embrace it. Send it back to history and move on. How? Move, talk, know, acknowledge and look ahead. The victory one gains over the ignorance of possibility will defeat any regret over what might have been. And always remember, “Don’t look back; someone might be gainin’ on you”. Satchel Paige.

chasing clouds or regrets?

do you have regrets

what do you regret?

See results

The Highway of Regret

CoIs the regret worth the price?mments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Abundant old soul profile imageAUTHOR

      Abundant Old Soul 

      5 years ago from united states

      I appreciate the comment! Regretter is my own contribution to the language. The youtube idea gave me an inspiration for a video. Thanks.

      I think I just published another Hub entitled My Old Man. It's another in a series of "People I Knew" Hubs.

      Peace be with you

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      5 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I loved the creative element of this hub. What was suggested to me once was sub-titling sections of my hubs. i.e You could break this piece up subtitling your various concepts for regret- People also seem to love U-tube inserts as well and you may want to incorporate one here. I have to say I loved this line--- "Regret is a wood tick sized pebble that walks with a person each day until the cigarette of forgiveness burns it out or the regretter develops Lyme disease" although not sure if regretter is a word I got flagged by spell check when I did a cut and paste. I look forward to reading more of your work. I hope you don't "regret" asking for critiques.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)