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Why You Should Learn to Regret

Updated on May 13, 2015

Regret nothing!

We all know the phrase and have heard it many times. The more fortunate amongst us have used it - directing it at others, and the less fortunate have heard it - being directed at them. So why do people say it?

'Regret nothing' is usually uttered to explain away an uncomfortable social blunder or to provide an excuse for a bad decision. It is intended by well-brought up people to make you feel better about some unacceptable deed/behaviour you have committed. It is a well-intentioned gesture on your friends' part but totally misguided because it offers you nothing in the way of personal growth.

Why should you regret nothing you've done? Just think about the times you have offended someone or been unkind or behaved in a way that was shameful to you and to your loved ones. Should you not take responsibility for your own actions? Of course, you should. It will do you good.

Embrace 'regret' and do it often

Regretting the bad decisions you've made in the past is an essential step in achieving personal growth and a step in the right direction to develop maturity and strength of character. The ability to regret will provide you with new insight into your behaviour and often offer new and better ways of handling yourself. By recognizing the wrongs you've done, you will become a better person who is capable of taking responsibility and learning from their mistakes. Unless you regret certain things that you've caused to happen, you will never learn your lesson or grow into a better, kinder and wiser person.

Regrets are a wonderful way of 'unloading' guilt. If you regret something, you're giving it the thought that you should have given the regrettable action before it happened. So, in essence, you are growing from the experience. That is all anyone can really hope for as you cannot go back to the past and change things. You can, however, do the next best thing - take responsibility for your actions and make things better with those you've hurt.

How do you tell people that you're unhappy with them?

It's often helpful to let others know what's bothering you, or it can build up in your mind and become an even bigger issue for everyone involved. So how do you tell your friends that you're unhappy about something they do? Tactfully, that's how. You do want to give feedback that is not going to create a bigger problem for you so what you need to avoid is unnecessarily hurting people's feelings. You've got to be gentle but firm at the same time to get your point across in an acceptable manner.

A good way of doing this is to prepare what you're going to say in advance. In order to do this, you think about the outcome you want to achieve out of the conversation. If the outcome is to change the other person, you might as well not have the conversation at all; you cannot change anyone else but yourself. If you're trying to let people 'have it' because they've made you angry, the conversation will end up in an argument and worse. If your outcome is to reach an understanding and a new way of communicating and solving issues, then go ahead, but do it in private as giving negative feedback to people in front of others is never a good idea. You may humiliate the other person and make your audience feel uncomfortable; no understanding will come out of this.

The technique described in this article that will help you approach the person correctly is called the 'feedback sandwich'. It's simply a way of softening the blow, so to speak, of putting a not so nice thing, i.e.a complaint, in between two nice things, i.e.compliments. You'll be well advised to master this skill as this is a great communication tool which you will need throughout your life, frequently.

How to give negative feedback

1. Make it about you, not them

Remember if you find someone annoying, you are really just taking your point of view into account as the other person probably finds their behaviour just right for them. So you need to phrase your concerns in a way that will not ruffle the other person's feathers too much. A good approach is to say: "I really enjoy your sense of humour but sometimes I find you a little over the top" rather than saying: "You're such a rude person." It is important that you tone it down and also make sure that as much as possible, the other person will see this as your problem too. So it will be positioned as a problem you can both solve together.

2. Be specific rather than general

Don't waffle too much or dance around the true issue. It is important the other person knows what it is they do that you're angry or concerned about. If you stick to a specific problem, you can say you can both work on a solution and this is a positive thing.

3. Don't exaggerate

Take words like 'always' and 'never' out of the conversation. If you start throwing exaggerations around, the other person will start to feel defensive and be inclined to be less cooperative. The discussion may even take a turn for the worse and degenerate into an argument, straying from the point altogether.

If you stick to these steps, most of the time a compromise will be reached. It only needs good will and practice.


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    • profile image

      Milly 2 years ago

      Lot of smarts in that pogisnt!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      I completely agree with you - having regret is a healthy reaction to having done something that wish you hadn't done, and is a means of growth. I don't think it's healthy to dwell on things in the past and feel guilty, but it's part of growing as a human being to learn from mistakes and correct them. Voted up and useful!

    • Simba73 profile image

      Simba73 5 years ago from UK

      Good wise words my friend