by Pamela J. Ball [1] 


Regret is a pointless emotion unless one is prepared to deal with it.

It usually arises from a realisation that we should have acted differently, or that someone else has not treated us properly.  Acting against ones inner principles can bring regret, as can creating situations where others must do the same.

Regret is an emotion which is backward-looking, and is as much concerned with forgiving oneself as it is with forgiving others.  If you look at your actions, you may well find that you could not have acted in any other way in those given circumstances.  If, for instance, you have lost your temper in an argument and said things that you have cause to regret, you may subsequently need to look at your motive for saying such things.  You may have deliberately been using the other person's weak point to hurt them; you may secretly feel justified in what you said; or you may even be expressing a secret fear.

Once you have uncovered your motive, or hidden agenda, then you can look to the past to uncover where this arises from, and deal with it.  When you are able to let go of the bad feeling, you will be able to adjust your behaviour accordingly.

The Daily Balance Sheet exercise is a good way of dealing with regret, because it enables you to deal with problems on an ongoing basis.  At the end of the day, probably shortly before you go to sleep, you look back over your actions, speech, feelings and emotions, and examine whether you have anything to regret.  If you have done or said something that you feel is unworthy of you, visualize the situation, forgive yourself, then resolve to do better in the future.  If someone else is involved you could send them positive thoughts so they are not affected by what you have done.

This is using regret to move you forward, and helps to deal with feelings of guilt and of powerlessness.


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[1]  Pamela Ball has been in the "business" of personal development for more than thirty years, during which time she has been a professional dream counsellor and has advised and guided countless people including leading figures in business, politics, and the arts.  She lives in Berkshire, England, and is the author of several books  - mainly on the subject of dream interpretation and other esoterica.  This article is based on a section of her book 10,000 Ways to Change Your Life (Arcturus Publishing, 1997).