In all of our lives, there have been circumstances where things turned out differently than we thought they should have when looking back. Regret is when we feel sorrowful for those results and wish that something different resulted. Regret is born from our non-acceptance of what has happened. Though we cannot change what has happened, we hold the wish for something different in our minds. We may think that we should have done something differently to avoid the situation all together or to change the results. However, our suffering over what has happened is what we create right now. That is our regret.

The old saying, “Hind sight is 20/20” gives us part of the story. It is very easy to look at what has happened some time ago, with all of the components in front of us to make a judgment on what we “should” have done. However, in the moment we made the decisions that we made, we were doing the best we could with what we knew and with what we had at the time.

No one purposely sets out to do something that isn’t in his or her best interest or in the best interests of those around them. We all have reasons for doing the things that we do that makes sense to us when we do them. Rather than seeing that we did the best with what we had at the time, we judge our actions by the results we received. When the results are unfavorable, we beat ourselves up with our regrets. We could have used the most sound logic and strategy available to us, but because the results were not what we were targeting, we feel bad.

We must begin to understand that we do not have control over results. All we have control over is what we think and what we do. If we want to walk to our front door, it makes sense to walk towards that door in the most direct path to achieve that goal. As we are walking towards the door, we slip and fall because we didn’t see a wet spot on the ground. In the moment that we were walking towards the door, we had the right strategy in mind to produce the result. However, something unforeseen occurred, which caused us not to meet our goal. Two days later, we look back on the experience and suffer regret over it. We feel as if we should have seen the water spot. What if we cleaned the entire house before we set out on our goal? If we had taken another path towards the door, we would have accomplished our goal. Because we NOW know about the wet spot, we feel as if we should have known about it all along and blame ourselves for not knowing. Most of us would then torment ourselves over our lack of knowledge and over not achieving our goal, when we did everything we knew to do at that time.

Regret is useless. In regret, we relive the past with a twist. We no longer see what actually happened. We see what happened with a judgment of what we should have done differently. We suffer over what we did instead of learning from it. If we looked at what happened, accepted it, and appreciated the experience for what it showed us, we would allow ourselves to move forward from there. Because we judge the experience, and don’t really accept it when our “shoulds” get in the way, we don’t move past it. We relive the same experience over and over.

In our hopes that we will not repeat the same situation again, we repeat it in our minds over and over. Our mind can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination, so we do that which we sought to avoid anyway.

Author's Bio: 

James LeGrand is the Author of "Evolve!", an best seller in Religion and Spirituality. He is also the publisher of, a free weekly newsletter that presents solutions to life’s issues through the lens of self-help, wisdom, philosophy and spirituality. In addition, James LeGrand is a Life Strategist, an Expert Author with &, a former Radio Personality, a Fortune 500 Vice President, and a Sifu in Shaolin Kungfu, which has been known for centuries as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment.