How to Live Well with Past Regrets

living with past regrets

Life is not easy. You know it. I know it. Our parents know it. Our friends know it. We all know it. No matter how great we do at life or how well and fast we reach our life’s goals, life will still happen to us all.

We will have moments when we make the right decision. Those times are reassuring, because we know that those good decisions will make life better in the long run. Then, we have moments when we make the wrong decision: when without a shadow of a doubt, we know we are doing the wrong thing, but we do it anyway. We all do it. But what hurts the most is the moments when we make what we think is the right decision, just to find out days, months, or years later that maybe we shouldn’t have made that decision in the first place. We may even scorn ourselves for once believing that it was right for us. These are hard to live with.

The truth of the matter, however, is that we cannot go back in time. I would bet $500 that if every person could make one wish only that would come true, most people would wish to go back and change a big decision they made in the past. Most will think that changing that one thing would change their present: make it more enjoyable, allow them more freedom, earn them more money, or simply just make living day-to-day happier and easier.

Since time travel is impossible, we are forced to live with our regrets. We must live with every single decision we make. Whether it be a small decision like buying an uncomfortable bed because it was on discount, then having your sleep suffer, or a big decision like deciding at 18 to have your baby only to realize at 25 that you don’t think you are mother-material. These decisions haunt us, and they’re not easy to live with. At all.

So how exactly do we live happy, fulfilling lives when we have past regrets that haunt us daily? The process is not easy, and I can say that I am DEFINITELY not there yet. Trust me, this post is being written because of the outrageously depressing morning I had today. Lots of tears, that all I have to say. But I’ve learned how to cope in a few different ways, and hopefully some woman somewhere who is reading this article, will try some of these pointers and end the day a little better than it started.

Attempt to focus on the positive outcomes of your regrets, instead of the negative consequences.

Every decision has ripple effects. Positive and negative. You probably feel upset because the negative seem to be front and center, all the time. I get it, its like that for me too. But what do you think will happen if you refocus your attention to the positive things that have occurred as a result of the decisions you made?

For example, if you regret becoming a single mother because of the high level of responsibility and other things that seem unfortunate with motherhood, try to focus on the positive instead: you have a healthy child, the joy the child brings you, the unconditional love you have for them, the significantly increased amount of tax refund money you get. Whatever gets you there.

Focusing on the positive will eventually improve your daily mood. You just have to practice being intentional about it on a regular basis.

Make the best out of your situation.

I know, I know. Easier said than done, right? I agree with you. So much easier said than done. How exactly do you “make the best” out of a situation? This simply means that after you refocus on the positive (see above), you have to turn those thoughts into action. Do activities that focus on the positive outcomes to reinforce your new positive mindset.

If we start to associate positive activities and energy with our regrets, our daily lives will get easier. Its all about a change in mindset. The state of our minds are so imperative to our daily well-being and our moods. We have to take action in order for things to get better, because who wants to live unhappy and in regret for the rest of their life. I sure don’t.

Realize that those decisions have a lot, or even EVERYTHING, to do with the kind woman you are today!

This can be taken positively or negatively. But, lets look at the positive. Some of the decisions you regret have made life harder. I know that mine have. We have been forced to grow-up fast, to denounced previously coveted selfishness and embrace responsibility.

Whether we want to realize it or not, these life decisions that we regret have made us into better women: we are stronger, less likely to give up and more likely to succeed. We know how to take lemons and turn them into lemonade. We can withstand the pressures of taking care of responsibilities and continuing to move forward. We must try to recognize that our regrets helped to mode our personalities, viewpoints, and journeys since then. Honestly, who knows where you would be if you hadn’t make that “bad” decision? Think about it.

Lastly, change your vocabulary.

Regret is such a negative word. It means that you wish you wouldn’t have done something and now you dread that moment. Once you focus on the positive outcomes, associate action with those thoughts and realize that it could have made you a better person, we much change the way we talk about those decisions. Instead, you can refer to them as “turning points” in your life: moments that caused everything to change and shifted you into a different chapter in your life. Its all about the journey. Lets try to keep as much positivity in it as possible.


Don’t let your past regrets define you. Instead allow them to speak purpose and life into your existence, to teach you gratefulness, and inspire you to pay more attention to the decisions that lie ahead.

How do you live a happier life with past regrets?

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Fab, Fine and Free

Maya is the founder of and Fab Fine & Free GLAM Services. She is a mother, pizza-eater and a lover of life. She currently resides in St. Louis, MO.

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