Today we’re going to delve into something that’s not normally linked to motivation, but a powerful motivator nonetheless.

It comes when we don’t take action, when we make mistakes, when we wrong ourselves or somebody else.

As a result, we’ll feel a twang of regret, deep guilt, or something in between.

What are we to do when dealing with regret?

Regret at its Best

Regret can be painful, but it serves a purpose.

It can bring us to awareness of bad habits, leading us to a positive change in behavior.

It can help us develop characteristics in the areas that we feel would have served us better in situations that have gone wrong in the past.

Regret can be a vehicle to personal growth as we come to the awareness that we could be doing better in a certain area of life. This awareness gets us ready to make some changes.

Regret at its Worst

It’s all good when we finally make the effort not to snooze through those hours of morning jog sunlight because we regret not being as fit as we could, but what happens when we allow regret to become something more than just motivation?

Regret is going to hurt us if we allow it to consume our attention and focus, even after making necessary changes.

Replaying the failures in our minds can be relentless.

Going past the point of healthy awareness for change and into this heavy place can be detrimental to our growth.

Too Much Regret?

Let’s say there was something that meant a lot to us but we straight up didn’t do it.

We’ll feel regret, and then we’ll see that it was because of a character deficiency like laziness, fear, or whatever flaw that caused inaction.

This can be a good thing to pin point where we need to change, but if we focus on these character flaws too much and attribute them to who we are, it can put us into a fixed mindset where we don’t see much hope for change in ourselves or circumstances.

When we’re in a fixed mindset, we’ll give into the lie that the way we are is the way we are and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Putting too much attention and focus on regret can waste a whole lot of energy too.

The mental energy required to conjure up visualizations of past failures can weaken our resolve to develop a certain skill set, build up meaningful relationships, chase a goal, or anything else we want to accomplish.

The Subconscious

To understand more of why being habitually and unnecessarily regretful is so powerful in diminishing self motivation, it’d be good to understand the subconscious.

The subconscious mind is very powerful, but it doesn’t know the difference between what is going on in reality versus what is just being thought up in the mind.

This is why dwelling too much on our failures can cause us to feel the same emotional response we felt when the actual event was happening.

It’s mentally exhausting and it takes an emotional toll.

When we dwell in regret for too long, we are inviting more and more regret and negativity as we bring back those negative emotions into our lives.

It’s good to acknowledge regret and acknowledge that we need to change to reach our ideal, but not to focus on our lack every waking moment of the day.

Teacher or Tormentor?

Visualizing our failings for too long causes us to start to attribute the reasons we didn’t take action to ourselves and our value.

This can be a torment for those who dwell on these thoughts for too long without changing thought patterns.

Instead of sulking in regret, we can be mindful of the situation, recognize the feeling of regret, accept it without letting it swallow up our focus, and let it generate the drive to adapt and grow.

If regret is consuming to the point of convincing you of negative beliefs, take a step back, and instead, focus on your game plan on how you are going to reach the level you want to be on.

Use regret as a teacher in all areas of life to come to awareness and increase your drive to take action in your goals.

Don’t allow regret to run you into a ditch. Keep it on that teacher level so that it serves you.


Our soul can speak to us through regret, telling us that something needs to be done, changed, or forgiven.

25 thoughts on “Regret”

  1. great article and your writing is very concise. Well done!
    Like so many others, I have many regrets. It’s nice to read a positive message such as yours reminding us that regret serves a purpose, and also that if we want to move forward in life, take that regret and turn it into a positive outcome! I guess that’s just how we learn in life. Cheers 🙂

  2. I liked your explanation on quilt and regret. I can relate heavily on that, one I have some regret for leaving the Navy, and my second was with my dad.

    The Navy I don’t have regret about leaving, but I do also if that makes since, for one I would have retired from the Navy by now. So I would say that is why I have regret, but on the other hand I wouldn’t have the family I have now, so I don’t have regret either.

    My other regret took me a long time to deal with as it had to do with the man I called Dad. I lost him in 1999 I had regret due to the fact that I lost him suddenly and it was a love hate relationship. I dealt with it by writing him a letter to let go of everything that had been left unsaid.

    Anyway I liked your information and thought I would share a little.


  3. Hi!

    Incredible post, you really understand the trouble of regret which likely mean you had them in your life. I can not explain your insight in other way.

    You are right, regret is the opportunity for growth.

    Great work really, thanks!

    • you’re right, it’s easy to look back on life and think that it could have been lived out better, a little bit less easy to draw the line and know when to stop ruminating in the past. Even now i’m striving to reach that balance

  4. I have always felt that both regret and guilt should be life lessons that you learn from, not dwell on.
    Nothing good comes from living in the past or dwelling in a bad moment. I know people that spend a good portion of their lives just reliving the past CONSTANTLY. They also spend an awful lot of time telling people how depressed they are… perhaps the two are related.

  5. I think that we can be regretful for a short time and after it, we must move on.
    We can not change what happened. We can choose different way how to deal with problem or how to behave next time if something similar happens.
    Our time is the most valuable asset except health. If we would think about past constantly, anyway we can not change it. We just would waste time.
    Of course, it is great to analyze situation, why it happened. However, it must be done as sooner, as we can.
    It is a good saying: move on. We need to forgive ourselves and others and return to our lives with new directions or actions.
    I think what it would be great to spend time with cheerful and positive people, who could clear all dark thoughts for us. Of course, we can not complain to them about our problems, but just being with them could change our mood.
    We can move on and take an action towards new goals.
    Thanks for great read, all the best, Nemira.

  6. Congratulations on the beautiful post. Regret and guilt are feelings everybody has to deal with, and once you understand that they are natural occurences in life and within your personality, you can deal with them in a more natural way. Like everybody, I have to deal with these, but I try to think that it is better to regret the consequences of action than those of inertia, as these tend to hurt much more.

  7. This post is right on. Regret is a great tool for our conscience (that inner voice that guides us to rightness). It is true that when you dwell too much on something you did wrong in the past or something you should have done, you waste a lot of time. Worst thing is, you could become depressed and this alone could stop you from doing fulfulling things in your life.

  8. Your Content is really powerful. The way you explained the pro’s and con is concise. Then making it more serious is the consequences when one dwelt in the worst case scenario. Thus affecting the powerful part of the brain – the subconcious. Like you said, it can’t tell what is real or unreal.

    This article is like a good warning to alot of people including me.

    Very nice by the way is your picture in black in white.

    Overall, awesome article, Jon.


  9. I am rather thankful that as I look back over my life, I feel no regret! I am happy with my choices – but that came from understanding that I do have choices. I may not always like the choices in front of me – but I DO always have a choice! If I take an action and it doesn’t work out, I can take another action!

    I won’t say that I never felt regret or guilt! I have, but by looking forward and knowing that I can change my life by my actions, I have been able to move on from those feelings!

    Thanks for the article!


    • That’s a great attitude you have. The fact that there is always a choice, even if it may seem like there is none is such an empowering perspective to have because it will enable you to find a solution. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Feeling regret, guilt, and other negative emotions both consciously and subconsciously can also have negative physical effects on the body. Letting things go and being a “good person” is very complex. Any kind of negativity is easily compounded and can spiral out of control, turning into something very difficult to reverse.

    But what you bring up here is a very valid argument! Changing one’s perspective to use negative feelings can be extremely motivating. And if the level of motivation is high enough to have goals reached and other positive experiences occur in life, those too can compound and spiral into a more and more positive experience in life!

    Thank you for your thoroughly insightful post. I hope my comment has added some value to the message you are conveying!

  11. Hello, Jon.

    I think it’s my second time on your website and I have to admit that your articles are a work of art. Very helpful and useful information. Important points to take into consideration. For example, I never viewed regret as a way “to awareness”, this gave me an “Aha” moment.

    Very useful tip, and I’ll keep that in mind.

    Thanks for this valuable piece of information.

  12. Hi, I love your website and this post! Next time I run into a situation I will come back and refresh my memorie cause it as helped to evaluate what I could have done differently or how to approach it and deal with it the best I can, then move forward, great work you are doing!

    Kind Regards


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