Regret, like any other negative emotion, or even positive emotion for that matter, exists to show us that we’ve done something wrong. Or if it’s a positive emotion, that we’ve done something right.
So what our negative emotions are trying to tell us?
Stop and learn the lesson
If we never experienced emotions, positive or negative, how would we know if we’re creating positive or negative outcomes in our life?
Strong regret is an extremely powerful and painful emotion. No doubt it’s very unpleasant to experience regret. The most awful feeling that it gives us is that we can’t actually do anything about it, because we can’t change our past actions.
The most sensible thing to do in this situation is to analyse what we did wrong, look inside ourselves what caused that outcome, change whatever needs to be changed in ourselves, so we never make similar mistakes in the future.
In addition, it’d be good to take a more careful and thoughtful approach in the future in other situations so we never experience regret again. That’s how 2 year olds learn that they shouldn’t touch hot surfaces and next time before they touch they stop and think. Hopefully.
Human beings aren't sensible
Yet human beings aren’t sensible beings, are we? At least we aren’t really sensible in how we deal with our own emotions.
Instead of taking a common sense approach and looking into ourselves and changing whatever caused us discomfort, we start indulging in feeling regret and quickly go down a negative spiral which takes us into hopeless situation: we regret the past, we know we can’t change it and we regret it even more. It’s draining, exhausting, miserable and awful.
It's useless to feel regret just for the sake of it
I know, because I’ve been there and done it. Many years ago I experienced extremely strong regret over a period of about 12 months. Lost many kilos, lost hope and the will to smile and laugh.
It’s ridiculous that I put my life on hold almost for a year going through an emotion that was only designed to make me change my mindset and behaviour.
The stronger the regret - the bigger the insecurity inside us that caused it
I learnt my lesson and since then never ever experienced regret. I made a conscious decision not to experience regret any more. It’s just not worth it.
Whenever I experience negative emotions I analyse what caused it, what I've done wrong, I work to change it and move on. As simple as that.