Marc Muchnick Ph.D.

No More Regrets!

Getting Unstuck: Moving Past Regret

Stop being a prisoner to your regrets

Posted Mar 04, 2011

We all have regrets, yet none of us want to have more of them. And while we would love to get rid of our past regrets, sometimes that isn't an option. Examples include missed opportunities, wrong turns, poor choices, outbursts in the heat of the moment, and all of the other things we would like to take back and do over again - but can't.

However, there are a number of productive techniques we can utilize to get over the unchangeable past regrets in our lives. For instance, a recent Concordia University study found that comparing oneself to others who are less fortunate can be a helpful coping mechanism. However, I like to think of this more in terms of realizing that things could be worse regardless of others' circumstances, and that we need to be grateful for the life we still have to live.

Case in point: when one of my very dear friends was in his 20s, he accidentally hit - and killed - a pedestrian while driving down the highway at night. How does one get over this kind of devastating regret? For awhile my friend went into a deep depression and was overridden with guilt. What finally helped him move on with his life was the realization that as dire as the situation was, it actually could have been worse. There could have been more casualties, including other motorists. In addition, he could have injured or killed himself or the passengers in his car... Nothing can change the regret that my friend will forever feel for this tragedy, but he has made it a point to move on with the keen awareness that he is fortunate to still have the opportunity to live a productive life.

Here are some specific steps that each of us can take to overcome and get past the regret in our lives:

  • Make peace with yourself.
  • Turn adversity into opportunity.
  • Stop playing the role of "victim."
  • Make every day count.

Marc Muchnick, Ph.D. is the author of No More Regrets! 30 Ways to Greater Happiness and Meaning in Your Life,

More Posts