how to avoid regret

Matt Boehmer

Everyone’s felt regret. You missed your chance to get the girl of your dreams, you didn’t go out and you missed something spectacular, or maybe you even forgot to play lotto and your numbers came out. Regret is so easily manifested, and many people just see it as a normal part of everyday living. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be. You can hack your brain and learn how to avoid regret forever with a few simple steps.

Why do I hate regret so much?

I speak about regret, and I speak about it often. But why am I so madly obsessed over the hate of regret?

1) Regret is the most negative of all negative emotions

2) It is a poison to your brain

3) It takes you out of the present moment, ruining your quality of life

3) It is a trigger for more negative behavior

I used to regret a lot

Regret rear’s its ugly head in a few different forms. There are two main forms of regret that I like to categorize things in. Long term regret and short term regret, or instant regret.

Long Term Regret

I was a very good soccer player who at the age of 17 had a choice whether to join a professional team in England or go to college to play division 1.

I went to college, partied my face off, and 5 years later my soccer career was over. I sat with that regret for years. I had all the classic emotions. I used to sit there and imagine where and what I would of been doing. I saw so clearly how amazing it would of been, and how many beautiful girls I would have been getting being a pro athlete.

That’s the worst thing about regret. What you regret is so clear to you in your mind you truly believe it to be real. I don’t know what I would have been doing. I could have been miserable. But in my mind, my regret convinced me that I would have been living this spectacular life, feeling a happiness that was only produced by my mind.

The main problems with holding on to long term regret are:

1) You ruin any quality of life you have now – On top of not living the glamorous life you imagine you would be, you are making your currently life even worse by living in regret. By ruining your current life and living in the past you are making the regret more powerful, feeding it and feeding it. 

2) You do not know what you would have been doing if you made a different choice – There is no way to tell what your life would have been. You could of been killed  in a car accident if you made a different choice. You never know. Your life is what is in front of you, and that is all, there isn’t and never was an alternative.

3) The grass is always greener on the other side. Live in the present, live your life.

Short Term Regret

The best example of short term regret or as I like to call it, instant regret, is missing out on talking to a beautiful girl.

I am sure you have been there. Everything is set up perfectly, all you have to do is say something, but you chicken out. You go home and its all you can think about. You can try to tell yourself oh i don’t care but eventually the regret sinks its teeth into your brain. You start to imagine very scenario. All of them obviously positive because this is the trick that regret plays on your brain. You start to imagine oh if I just said that I would of gotten her number and i would be fucking her right now. It would be so amazing. Blah blah blah. You truly convince yourself of this and you can imagine how amazing you would feel and it would be so clearly and all it does it eat you alive.

This type of regret can last for days and completely ruin your mood and any chance of enjoying yourself for the weekend.

1) Short term regret is not as serious as long term regret but can pose many problems.

2) Again, you never know what would have happened – Don’t believe your brain that convinces you that if you just did this or said that you would be sleeping with a beautiful girl right now. Chances are you would be right where you are. Just happy, because you are not regretting.

Can you actually avoid regret

Regret is a choice. It always has been and it always will be. Your mind is powerful, and can manifest emotions at will, but you are in control of it. Just like every other aspect of your mind you can control what you think. There are simple steps you can start today to eliminate regret from your mind forever.

1) Feel the effect of regret on your brain

Next time you regret something, take a second and listen to your brain. I can remember distinctly the last time I blew an incredible opportunity to take to a beautiful girl I regretted it for days. I could actually feel chemicals being released into my brain whenever the regret came up.  I started to notice when I got this feeling and I would consciously attempt to make it stop. I stayed present and cleared the thought of regret in my head until that feeling went away. After that I was clearer and refreshed.

2) Don’t believe your brain 

Your brain will try everything to convince you that if you made the other choice the most amazing perfect outcome would of occurred  This is not the case. Recognize this as a trick of regret and it will lose its power immediately.

3) Stay present 

When you start to regret something you will now be able to feel it based on the practice above. When you are regretting something you are 100% inside your head. You are thinking and imagining, but what you need to do is focus, and avert your attention to the present.

Feel all the sensations of your body and breath and notice your surrounding. Essentially you are getting out of your head and into the present moment. At first this will be difficult and you may snap right back into regretful thinking. But with time and practice you will be able to force your way out of the thinking pattern permanently . You will be able to stay present whenever you want and let thought pass you by. You will be consciously aware of them but they will have no emotional effect on you. You are in the present moment and are in control. This is the goal of meditation and with daily mediation practice you can achieve these skills.

This will not only allow you to bypass regret but will enhance every other area of your life.

4) Look forward 

Now that your are out of your head and not looking backwards, look forward. At first you will need to force yourself, but look forward and think what you are going to do. There is no past. There is only now, and you can look forward to the future and how you are going to avoid regret in the future.

Instead of spending days punching walls for missing out on that girl, you can control your mind and decide how you are going to change yourself so you never miss that chance again. Not only are you avoiding negative thought patterns and self destructive behavior, but you are building positive thoughts and contributing to self growth. It is a complete 180.

Like I said at first this will be hard

You will need to concentrate a lot to achieve this if the regret is strong. But just breath and remember, stay present. Eventually your mind will do this naturally and you will never live with regret again. You cannot change the past, you can only shape your future. Regret is a choice, and you can choose to say no..

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Regret is a choice.” Absolutely. I realized that long ago, and live with low regret.
    That doesn’t mean I never have regretful thoughts, but I can usually banish them by reminding myself of a simple truth. “Regret is bullshit. I made choices based on what I wanted then. Regret is based on what I want now.”
    Even if that doesn’t seem true (I wanted to approach her!) it actually is. You wanted comfort more than to take the opportunity. If that bothers you, figure out what it is exactly that caused you to make that choice (because you’ll make it again) and actively work on it.

    Here’s something to consider. You’ve probably wasted months, if not years on media, like tv; videogames; porn; music; facebook. That’s pretty easy to regret, considering you could have mastered literally anything if you put that time towards it. But who fucking cares? You made the choice then because you craved the entertainment. It gave you stories to cling to, and you enjoyed them.
    Maybe you don’t think that’s as valuable now. Instead of regretting doing something you found worthwhile at the time, do something inline with your new perspective.

    • I definitely agree with you here. Especially about time wasted.

      It reminds me of the quote:

      “Time you enjoyed wasting was not wasted at all.”

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