No regrets. regrets. What does that mean? That you’ve lived a blameless life? Or that you’ve been too scared to live your life?

“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.”  ~ Jonathan Larson

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t done or said something that they wish they hadn’t. But are you still punishing yourself for something you should have let go? If you’re holding onto to guilt, you’re holding onto the past. But the past can’t be undone. And feeling guilty is not going to make it better. If fact your guilt can infect every relationship through mistrust, judgement and unrealistic expectations.

“If you can’t forgive yourself, you can’t forgive others.” ~The Hurt Healer

During my dark drinking days I had many regrets. When I look back there are so many things I wish I hadn’t done or said. But through recovery and faith I was able to find forgiveness. And for those who believe that ‘faith’ equates with ‘cop out’, allow me to show that it is far from it.

Anyone who is familiar with the 12 step programme knows that the steps are rigorous and challenging. For me it included:

“Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.”

“Admitting to God, to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.”

“Making a list of all persons I had harmed, and being willing to make amends to them all.”

“Making direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

“Continuing to take personal inventory and when I was wrong promptly admitting it.”

So although today I can freely say I have no regrets, it doesn’t mean that I’m not accountable. Rather it means that I am willing to acknowledge my wrong-doing and have a willingness to put it right. And then I can let it go.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”                                              ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Regrets will hold you in the past, at the expense of your future. So learn to deal with your mistakes, hold your head high and determine to do better.

And don’t let the fear of doing something you might regret stop you giving it a go.Because living a  life of passion and purpose requires risk. Sometimes things will go wrong. You may even unintentionally hurt someone. But you have to weigh up the benefits of trying something with the detriment of doing nothing.

“If only I’d……” What a tragic sentence. Missed opportunities to say or do something can leave you empty and frustrated, disappointed and angry.stumble

There are no guarantees that life is going to go the way you want it to go. We can encounter either the possibility or the certainty of regret. But as for me I’d rather stumble and fall than not try at all.

What about you? No regrets?

77 thoughts on “No regrets.

  1. A great post on regrets. I even picked up a couple ideas to schedule on hootsuite. I especially like the thought about ‘faith’ not being a ‘cop out’… people who believe that are just using that as an excuse not to trust in our Lord, God, Almighty. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You know, I once lived life abadon…I followed my heart and my dreams and if they worked the did if not then great…next…but about 5 years ago, i suffered a major professional blow…it was not a career but a ministry that was ALL heart….and it killed me to lose it..worse yet, it triggered an avalanche of regrets where there had been none before…I am still digging my way out as I near 46…it is not fun but I must return to that life of no regrets!

    • Carl there is nothing like a huge blow to make us question our actions, but you are proof that you can recover. Wishing you lots of success and happiness as you return to your life of no regrets!

  3. Another unforgettable post, Carolyn! I loved this line, ““If only I’d……” What a tragic sentence.” Until I started my own recovery journey from the impacts of living, loving, coping with 40+ years family and friends’ alcohol abuse and alcoholism, I didn’t understand so much of what held me back from living my life was regrets – regrets over my behaviors as I tried to control the situation through blaming, shaming, manipulating… So very happy that’s behind me…

    • So glad that you have overcome your regrets of the past Lisa. You spent so many years in situations over which you had so little control and you did what you needed to at the time to survive. It’s behind you and now look how you thrive!

  4. Carolyn, this is a great post! I also went through an epiphany about 10years ago…when I realized that I was carrying around all this regret with me due to the mistreatment of others. I made amends to them and afterward, I felt much lighter! However, I did have to learn how to just let it go within myself as a few of those that I wronged I wasn’t able to find or wouldn’t talk to me…but let it go and feel much lighter now and pay a lot more attention to how I treat people from then on!

    • Kudos to you Liz for having the insight to confront the problem and take responsibility. It takes strength to take the actions you took. So glad that now you have been able to let the past go, learn from it and move on. 🙂

  5. Yes – living with regret is allowing your past to be the lens in which you see your present (and future) life. It causes pain that is so important to release. Thanks so much for your inspiration.

  6. Many years ago I decided that if I had to have regrets I would much rather regret the things I did than the things I didn’t do. And I’ve rarely regretted anything I actually was brave enough to do. For the most part, it’s worked out pretty well.

  7. Pingback: Living With Regret | Cindy Ortiz – Leap Like A Frog

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Simply love your posts! My favorite quotes: “If you can’t forgive yourself, you can’t forgive others.” ~The Hurt Healer & “I’d rather stumble and fall than not try at all.” ~The Hurt Healer

  9. Living in, and with, regret is such a painful way to live. And since we can’t change what has already happened, the only true way to make it worth the experience is to use it in a positive way for going forward. Thanks sooooooo much for reminding us that regrets simply aren’t a healthy way to live.

  10. As a fellow 12 Stepper, I too love and have worked the steps…and continue to work them. I agree with what you are saying about regrets, Carolyn. In addition, regrets keep us connected to the past and we will keep losing energy. Part of recovery is coming to terms that we are perfectly imperfect!

    • Glad to be joining you on the 12 Step journey Meryl and your success is overcoming emotional eating is inspiring! Thank you for your insightful comments. I love your phrase ‘perfectly imperfect.’ 🙂

  11. I’ve also read that people regret things that they didn’t do far more than they regret things they did do. So go for it as even if it doesn’t work out or turns out to be a mistake, you won’t regret not trying.

  12. “Regrets will hold you in the past, at the expense of your future.” Those are very true words, Carolyn. I love this post (you write so well and from the heart, my dear). We can’t move forward if we keep one eye focused on the past…so we need to let go…and move forward. Beautiful, beautiful post!

    • I agree with you Loretta that regrets do need to be dealt with, and that is definately one of the hardest parts of the 12 step programme. It’s not easy to face your mistakes head on! But once you do, the healing can truly begin.

  13. My life has been littered with “I should have…” ‘s. The regrets were based solely on fear – fear of failure, fear of looking foolish, fear of offending my pride, and paradoxically, fear of success. What if I did something and, gasp!, it worked out? What then? For me, my whole persona of that down and out guy then would be shot through with holes. If I started succeeding, even in small amounts, then I have to re-write the script of my life, and would have to drop self-pity and resentment. And why would I do that since I have been wearing both like a comfy robe? Regrets were merely ways to justify my life of being unhinged and fearful. The difference now is that instead of looking at things in the way of regrets, I look at them as missed opportunities that will be given to me in another time, in another guise. Redemption has no window, in my opinion, and as long as I stay open, stay true to myself and God’s will, then I need not have regrets.

    Cheers 🙂


    • Thank you Paul for your insightful comments. I’m so glad you have found a way to re-write the script of your life without the self=pity and resentment. And especially without the fears. I love your idea of not looking at something as a regret but as a missed opportunity that will be given at another time in another guise. For me that’s faith!
      Keeping staying true to yourself and God’s will! 🙂

  14. Many regrets. Many wasted chances. Many ‘if-only’s’. Many things to beat myself up about, if I let myself.

    I can’t do much now about the wasted chances and missed opportunities and things said or not said, things done or not done. But I CAN choose to not beat myself up. I am working on forgiving some people from my drinking days – one of those people is me.


    • Keep on working on forgiving Michelle. Especially when it comes to forgiving yourself. You can’t undo the past so learn to leave it there and focus on what you can change – your future. xo

    • We all do things we regret Vidya, and how long we hold on to it will depend on the strength of the regret. Somethings are just easier to deal with than others. But I do hope that you can find a way to look at your regrets differently. So that they no longer make you sigh. Hugs xo

  15. Though sometime it feel hard to live a life with no regret but with time if we allow our self to live a life without regret then we do a favor on our own self.
    Life teach us lesson after taking the test. No one can claim that they didn’t make any mistake or anything in their life on which they don’t feel bad or regret but as you said holding that thing make life miserable. We all should learn from our mistake & accept the fact with open heart that regret can’t make things better only learning & forgiving can do.

  16. I think a key admission that’s part of the 12-step program (as I understand it) — that I am not able to move beyond my present stage of growth on my own, and I need the help of others — is definitely courageous, whether we’re talking about needing a higher power or just other people.

    • You’re right Chris. It doesn’t matter what your higher power is, as long as you recognize that you can’t recover on your own. You can’t grow without the help and support of others. It was a very hard concept for me to grasp at first because I didn’t like asking for help and I didn’t think I deserved it.
      Wishing you success as you move into your next chosen path 🙂

  17. I have spoken words…that later on after reflecting ….I wish I hadn’t said. Or perhaps I wish I hadn’t had to say them. But at the time I said them, I felt they were the right thing to say at that time.
    Sounds a bit confusing. lol

    I am glad you have found a way to overcome your problems. 🙂

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