Regret is an emotion that we all feel, but that we will do almost anything to avoid. The fear of regret can keep us stalled out, not taking the actions that will create the life we want.
In this episode, you’ll learn why you don’t need to be afraid of regret. You’ll understand how it can be both useful and harmful, and how to leverage it for your good. When we stop fearing emotions, we are willing to take bold actions, knowing that we will be able to handle whatever comes.
If you want to move forward in your life without the fear, or want to learn how to let go of past regrets, be sure to listen to this episode.
I’m Andrea Giles, and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast,
episode number 43, Regret.
Hello, and welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is that possible? It is and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello, hello everybody. I’m back with episode number 43. So I’m just going
to jump on in today. So regret, that’s what we’re talking about today.
Regret is something that you’ve heard me talk about before on this podcast
here and there. It’s an emotion. But I’ve never devoted a whole podcast to
it, and I thought that it was time. I hear a lot about it. I hear a lot
about regret. I hear it from my clients. I hear it from just people that I
talk to. Fears about feeling regret, worried about it, regretting things
that they think should be different. And so I thought that I would discuss
this in detail today.
I’m going to talk to you today about where regret can be useful, where it
can be damaging, and how to use regret in your favor. It really can be
both. It can be both a useful emotion and an indulgent emotion. You’ve
heard me talk about indulgent emotions before. They are emotions that keep
us stuck, that don’t serve a purpose. When used in certain ways, regret can
become that. And I’ll explain the difference. I’m going to share some real
client experiences to demonstrate how the emotion of regret can be both
useful and damaging.
Now, while I am talking about regret today, I want you to watch your own
brain while I’m talking. I want you to notice where is regret holding you
hostage, keeping you back from moving forward. Is it keeping you stuck? I’m
going to show you what that looks like, how to watch for that. Of course,
I’m going to give you some tools to help you know how to work with the
emotion of regret, to help it kind of lose its grip so you can move
forward. All right, let’s go.
So regret is a very common human emotion. I’m sure you all have heard
people say before, “I have no regrets.” And you know what? I don’t believe
them. I think it’s a lie. I think when people say that, what they mean is
that they’ve learned to manage the emotion of regret, the feeling of
regret, and work through it and move through it. But guess what? Regret is
an emotion that most of us will feel at one time or another throughout our
lives. Let’s talk about where regret shows up. It can be past-based and
future-based. We can look at things we have done or not done and regret
When is this useful? Let me give you some examples. The thought of feeling
regret in the future can be useful when you decide that you’re hungry and
you’re looking in the fridge trying to decide what to eat. You see chips
and dip, and you decide you want that. But you can use the thought, “I
don’t want to regret eating that so I’m going to make a different
decision.” This is something I like to think of. What will my future self
thank me for? So rather than fearing I might regret it, I might feel
regret, you can shift it to what will my future self be so grateful that I
did for myself right now in this moment? Will my future self say thank you
for not eating the chips and dip and giving yourself a bellyache? Probably.
Now, you’re here because you have experienced some form of betrayal in your
marriage, some kind of infidelity. Let’s say your spouse says something to
you that feels hurtful. You might have a real zinger, something that you
want to say that feels very true, but that you know would sting. You want
to match hurt with hurt. You feel hurt so you want to hurt back. But is
that who you want to be? Sometimes thinking about regretting something in
the future can help you make a quick decision in the moment like, “Ooh, I
don’t want to regret that. I don’t want to regret saying that.”
Now we might look at our past and regret some of the decisions that we
made. How can that be useful? Regret can serve as a really valuable
teacher. It can show us where we can grow. It can show us how we can
improve. It can show us areas that maybe were blind spots to us that are no
longer a blind spot. It can instruct us.
So when is regret harmful? I’m going to give you some examples. I recently
had a conversation with somebody that I really care about, who was in the
midst of making some really, really big decisions in her life. And she
asked if she could talk to me. And so I said of course, and she called me
and we had a conversation. And what came up for her is that with this
decision she was making, she was afraid that she was going to have regrets.
She was afraid that she was going to miss something or get something wrong.
And I asked permission to kind of help her through it. And what we realized
is that that fear of regretting was keeping her from making the decision
she needed to make. The fear of regret was keeping her frozen in a state of
paralysis, of going, “Well, what if I get it wrong? What if I get it
wrong?” And she also was missing the opportunity to feel the joy
surrounding this decision that she was making. She was robbing herself of
it by creating problems for herself ahead of time.
And so how I helped her is in saying, “Okay, what if you do have some
regrets? So what? What if down the road you go, ‘You know, in hindsight, I
would do it this way, or I would’ve taken this part out.’ So what? It only
means what you make it mean, right?” We all have things that we would do
differently because we are at a different place now than we were when we
made the decision we made. It’s not a problem. It’s only a problem if we
make it a problem. It’s only a problem if we give it so much power and
Now I see this with my clients a lot. They can be so afraid of feeling
regret, of getting it wrong, that they stay in a relationship that they are
well aware of is not healthy, or they stay in a relationship without like
being willing to put the necessary pressure on the relationship to change
because they’re so afraid of getting it wrong, of showing up in the wrong
way, of saying the wrong words. So sometimes they don’t do anything. This
is something I see a lot in people who are interested in working with me
before they actually start. They’re so afraid of getting it wrong and then
having regrets that they are not moving at all. They go round and round in
the pain they’re sitting in, waiting for something to change, for the other
shoe to drop, something, anything to help them avoid having to make a hard
decision and then possibly feel regret later. They want to avoid regret.
Now, again, what I say to both of those examples is what’s wrong with
feeling regret? It’s a human emotion. It’s one of the many that we
experience. It’s only a problem if you use regret to punish yourself rather
than to help yourself learn. Using it to beat yourself up for making the
mistake rather than deciding what you want to learn from it and how you
want to change moving forward is keeping you stuck. We can feel it, we can
learn from it, and we can let it go.
One of the traps we set for ourselves with regret is blaming ourselves.
It’s never useful, though. Blaming ourselves is never useful. It’s
completely past-focused rather than future-focused. And I can promise you
that all the best things are out in front of you. Blame keeps us from
creating that amazing life that we want. Hanging out in regret and blaming
ourselves keeps us from the very life that we want.
I heard this quote recently in preparation for this podcast. It said, “A
man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” So with that in
mind, how old are you? Do your regrets fill up your space or do your dreams
fill up your space? Which one are you lighting when out? Are you spending
more time living in the past, wishing things were different, or are you
spending your precious, precious brain power crafting a future that you
can’t wait to live in, one that you want to live in.
Now, something else to look for is when others try to pass on their
feelings of regret to you. So for example, when I was going through
divorce, I had well-meaning people say to me, “Why did you stay so long?
You knew that there were these issues. Why did you stay so long? Oh, I bet
you wish you didn’t marry him.” Like, well-meaning people, right? Guess
what? That’s their thought. If I wanted to, I could borrow their thought. I
could judge myself for staying. I could make it mean that I was weak. I
could regret staying. I could regret marrying him.
Or guess what? Or I can decide that I left right on time. I had all the
experiences and all the understanding that I needed to make the decision
that I needed to make right when I made it, right on time. It was always
going to play out that way. I always was going to marry him. How do I know
I needed to, that it was the correct decision? Because it’s the decision I
made. I make the decision correct by the way I choose to think about it.
I want to give you some useful thoughts to try on when you look at events
from your past. It was always meant to happen this way. Even more than
that, it was always going to happen this way. It was always going to happen
this way. I just didn’t know it. I was always going to make that decision.
That was the perfect lesson for me. I will start now so I don’t regret not
Now back to the one that was the perfect lesson for me. Find the lesson.
Find it. Why was it the perfect lesson for you? What did you learn? How are
you smarter and wiser now than you were before that? Put your brain to work
and find it. It’s so much more useful than just wallowing and hanging out
in blame and shame and all those things. Find the lesson and move on. Go to
the future. What decisions do you want to make now to prevent regret in the
future? What is in your control?
Now, here’s the thing. Despite our best efforts, regret sometimes comes
along for the ride. We might have some regrets in the future. We can live
intentionally and craft the life that we want and show up the way that we
want, and guess what? We’re still human. We’re still fallible. We’re still
going to mess up sometimes. We might feel regret. So what? What if it’s not
a problem? What if you get to feel the regret, look for the lesson, and
I can tell you this. I can look back on my life. I became a mother very
young. I was 21. I now have that son that was my firstborn is married now.
My youngest kids are 12-year-old twins. Guess what? I’m a much more relaxed
mother to those 12-year-old twins than I was to him. Why? Because I know
more, I’m more mature, I have more experience. I can look and see plenty of
things that I could have done differently. I’m different with them at 12
than I was with him at 12.
Now, I could sit around berating myself and punishing myself, or I can look
to the future, decide what do I want to learn from those things? What are
the things in the relationship with my son that I wish I would have done
differently but didn’t, but what can I do now? Here’s the thing. When we’re
wallowing in the past and hanging out in the past, we’re robbing ourself of
the massive power that we have now. My son’s 22 years old. I can still have
influence. I can still love him. And to be fair, I feel like I’ve been a
pretty good mom to him. But of course, of course I’ve learned things. Of
course I have, and I can use those things moving forward to be the kind of
mother that I want to be now. I can use them as useful intel for who I want
to be in the future.
So let me ask you this. Are you living with a lot of regret, maybe wishing
you married a different guy and then things would be so much better,
wishing you learned these things younger in life? Do you regret not having
seen the signs that something was off earlier? Let me ask you this. Is it
useful? Is it serving you to keep coming back to it? Is it helping you to
move forward to relive the regret over and over? I found this little quote
by Jennifer Aniston. She says, “There are no regrets, just lessons.” It
might start out as the initial sting of regret. It might. But we can use
those experiences that start out with a feeling of regret and turn them
into lessons that we maybe would not have learned any other way. What if we
take those lessons and turn them into gifts and thank ourselves for being
such wise teachers? Thank you for this lesson. I see that I could not have
learned it any other way.
For me, I think what I would regret in the future is not going all in on
myself now, playing small, hiding, not doing the work to become the next
version of myself. I know I’d regret holding onto the things that I know
need to be let go of and working towards those things. What are you
regretting? What can you find as the lesson and choose to let go? And how
can you leverage the emotion of regret to build the future that you want,
to take the action that you want?
Remember this. In the end, regret is just an emotion. There is no emotion
that you need to be afraid of. You are not your emotion. You are not
regret. You are whole and good and strong and capable. And guess what?
Sometimes you will feel regret and it’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong. Learn
the lesson, identify what it is. See if it’s keeping you stuck. Let it go
and look to the future you, what you want to build, who you want to be
there, to leverage the lessons that you’ve learned.
Go build that life. Get yourself unstuck. Don’t be afraid to make bold
decisions because you might feel regret, you might get it wrong. My
friends, you’re allowed to get it wrong. You’re allowed to feel regret. It
only keeps hurting you if you keep letting it hurt you. You are bigger than
your feelings. All right, my friends, that’s what I have for you today. I
look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity Podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
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it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.