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5 Life Altering Lessons You Can Learn from Regret

lessons from regret

Regret can leave you wishing for ways to erase your past forever. But it can also teach you the 5 most important lessons you need for your future.

Regret is when we feel sad, ashamed and disappointed over something we’ve done, or perhaps failed to do.

Regret is a negative emotion and therefore, often extremely difficult to deal with.

And yet, in order to live your life to the absolute fullest, it is essential to understand what regret can teach us, and not solely dwell on its negativity.

My story of regret

While going through a relationship dilemma during my early twenties, I made a few tricky mistakes and had to deal with the harsh reality of feeling deep regret.

At the time, I thought I was fairly confident and sure about who I was as an individual and a partner.

I had clear-cut rules about love and relationships, and was very black and white about what was right and wrong in love.

Yet, after dating my first boyfriend for over three years, I did *what I believed to be* the number one unforgiveable thing – I cheated.

It was during this time that I learnt a lot about regret and how it can be an extremely draining emotion. It can suck you in, toss you around, and spit you back out before you truly realize what has happened.

For quite sometime after I cheated, and my relationship ended, I was stuck in a vortex of regret that caused me to stagger from emotion to emotion, ranging from extreme guilt, denial, blame, sorrow, bitterness, and of course, depression. It was intense and difficult to see past these dominating feelings.

I reached a pretty low point that was becoming increasingly self-destructive, and knew I needed a change. So, slowly *very slowly* but eventually, I convinced myself that I could no longer let the regret consume me. Instead of focusing on the negative, I chose to look at the other purposes the regret could serve. I tried to pinpoint what the situation could teach me. [Read: 15 love lessons your own break up can teach you]

5 life lessons regret can teach us all

What I discovered are a few things that I think most people who’ve stumbled through the cycle of regret come to realize.

Regret can offer a lot of valuable information, depending on how you view yourself and the situation you’re in, and here are a few amazing lessons that regret can teach you.

#1 Regret can lead to insight about yourself

I discovered that regret has the opportunity to offer a very accurate and deep understanding of one’s self.

For example, I began to understand the true reason that I cheated. I learnt that I was not as confident as I believed, and couldn’t admit to myself that my partner was verbally and emotionally abusive. I was not strong enough to leave my not-so-healthy relationship, and instead of facing the situation head on I decided to take a roundabout way of getting out – I cheated and used it as an excuse for myself to end the relationship. [Read: How to let go of a relationship that’s doing you more harm than good]

Instead of hating your past or wishing for it to change, try to understand what led you to that moment, and confront the fact that there is something you need, but look for other ways to fill that void.

#2 Regret can help you avoid future mistakes

Through regret you find out very easily what habits and behaviours are unhealthy for your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, and therefore what not to do in the future.

Through battling with my personal regret, I learnt what wasn’t healthy to repeat in order to protect myself, and not to hurt others. I knew that I couldn’t possibly deal with another situation where I had to confront the fact that I cheated. Dealing with it once was enough, and therefore I resolved that I would not use cheating as an excuse to leave a relationship again.

#3 Regret can encourage you to take action

Well, it is often easier, and less intense to let situations slide by without dealing with them properly, regret teaches us that it is important to address what happens in our lives actively. You should make your own decisions, and be assertive in expressing what you need and want.

In this respect, I should have been more insistent in vocalizing my relationship problems with my partner, family and friends, and not just allow them to continue to a point where the only way out *I believed* was through cheating.

Yet, instead of taking action to solve the real problem, I accepted the hurt from my boyfriend and ended up making a decision to cheat, which ended up causing a lot more emotionally turbulence for myself. In the future, I have agreed that I will actively address issues in my relationships, instead of letting them fall to the wayside. [Read: 18 critical signs of an unhealthy relationship]

#4 Regret can teach you to forgive yourself

Regret teaches us very clearly that people make mistakes. Regardless of the expectations and standards we create for ourselves, we are only human, and it is impossible to “get it right”ย every single time.

By making mistakes we learn lessons, and by learning lessons, we grow as individuals. And the biggest lesson to be learned from regret is how to finally forgive yourself for the choices you’ve made.

I quickly realized that the reason I could not let go of what had happened, and continued to cycle through regret *even after what I had learned*, was because I hadn’t truly forgiven myself for my choice to cheat.

In order to fully move on from the situation, and let go of the regret I was harboring, I had to allow myself to be excused for what I had done. It was the most difficult part of dealing with my regret, but definitely the most important. [Read: How to stop lying to yourself and face the truth instead]

#5 Regret can be many things

As I did begin to forgive myself for cheating I realized that regret is all about what you take from the emotion. It can be a purely negative experience where you plummet to very low lows. But it can also be an uplifting experience that teaches you about yourself, forces you to grow as an individual, take responsibility and action for what happens in your life, and learn to let things go.

Most people feel regret at some point in their lives, but if you can get through the initial difficulty and intensity of the emotion and embrace the value in what regret forces you to see, it can be an enlightening experience.

[Read: 25 memorable life lessons to perfect your future]

Don’t hate your past just because you have regrets. Embrace it and overcome it. And if you choose to, just like me, you can use regret to learn lessons that can change your future for the better.

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7 thoughts on “5 Life Altering Lessons You Can Learn from Regret”

  1. Jeremy says:

    I cheated on my girlfriend a year ago, and things have never been the same again. She forgave me, and she’s accepted me back. But every now and then, when I look at her I’m filled with guilt and regret.

    I still haven’t been able to look at regret and take it as a learning lesson. It’s hard and I find myself withdrawing myself from her. I just feel dirty everytime I touch my girlfriend. This is making it really hard for me to lead a normal life with my girlfriend and it’s affecting our relationship negatively. I’ll use these suggestions and try to think of regret as a positive experience. I hope it helps me change for the better.

  2. Sheila says:

    I have never cheated but I have been cheated on and was able to forgive but never forget and holding onto the anger it makes you have is what keeps you from being happy and moving forward

  3. Zenobia says:

    Regret has taught me so much when it comes to my relationship. I have some things that I have done that I regretted because it hurt someone very special so much that though they were crushed I felt like I crushed myself and my integrity with it. I cheated on my boyfriend got caught by my mouth telling someone about my fling and he over heard. What regret taught me here was that I had to learn to be truthful and honest versus trying to hide things as my man deserves that. Another thing I learned is to forgive myself and not walk around unable to feel trusted ever again. It was a process that took many small steps to get myself back to feel good about living and loving.

  4. Randall says:

    One of the most important things about regret is that it can spur you into action. When you come to the realizations about yourself that you hadn’t realized before through a past regret, then you’re in a much better position to do something about them. I recently had a bad financial downfall that followed a long while of excessive splurging and spending. I’m in terrible financial shape right now and I regret a lot of the purchases I made, but know what? I met with a financial advisor at my bank and now I have a very clear budget and can aim to work towards never being in this situation again.

  5. regina says:

    I had a lot of things I regret from my life. I regret meeting a dead beat guy who just impregnated me and left, that’s the thing I really regret the most. He took me for granted. I was 16 at the time and we were just in high school. I really told him to wear a condom went we did it the first time but he didn’t listen. He said that he has mastered the art of pulling out. He didn’t pull out. I was so scared at that moment of my life because I know my parents would really get mad at me and will even disown me if they knew I would get pregnant. It was inevitable, I did get pregnant and I couldn’t really be happy about it. I was only 16.

    When my parents knew that I was pregnant, the one thing they told me that really stuck to me is they won’t be supporting me anymore. They would only provide housing for me and that’s it. They didn’t even buy food for me anymore. I had to stop going to school even after my baby was born. I worked 3 part time jobs and 1 full time job. At most, I would only get 2-3 hours of sleep each day or night, depending on my schedule. I was lucky enough that my friends would baby sit my son for me while I was at work.

    There were times that I just told myself to give up and just end it all but I looked at the brighter side. After setting aside some money, I went back to school and got a GED. I took a vocational course and landed a job in the managerial level. My life was finally turning around. From all the struggle I went through I realized the one true thing or that one true someone that kept me going was my son. He made me into the kind of person I am today and I don’t really regret having been pregnant at 16 anymore. I turned my life around and that’s what’s important.

  6. Francsio says:

    Sometimes, I feel like I just wasted my life as a teenager. I never did things normal teens do. I’m the kind whose life just revolve around home and school. School was my priority which is not bad, actually. However, I wasn’t able to do many things because I would just choose to stay home and study rather than to go out and have fun with my friends ALL THE TIME. It is just now that I realized that I’ve missed many things; I should have balanced everything out. I don’t know if it’s right to feel like this but I am really regretful. I’m really here to say that It’s okay to feel however you feel. I can see how you might feel that way. It’s not too late to do now, though! The lesson is how you feel about what happened in the past, you can apply to the present so you will have no future regrets. Nothing is wrong with that when you are busy with other things and then later when you have a family everything will change and priorities will be different too. So the best thing to do is to enjoy everything now because later things will change.

  7. Nany says:

    Regret is something I really love because I don’t regret my regrets. You know what I mean? I had a video submission at MTV. I was sucking my own cock and I regretted it because they showed it in one of their shows but I loved regretting it. I wanted to feel regret again. Is there a certain mental condition where you are only doing things that you regret? I am constantly doing things that I regret doing because I love it. People keep on insulting me and I regret killing them but I love it. I have killed as many as 100 people now. Naah, maybe even more. I love it! I love regretting that I have their blood in my hands. I regret not getting caught by the police so that’s why I don’t ever want to be caught because I regret it. I loved spiderman so much that I just had to kil him. You ever wonder why toby mcguire no longer does movies? I killed him and cut his nipples off. He was working out at my gym and I had to kill him.

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