Menu
Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

Dealing with Regret: 8 Ways to Benefit and Move Forward

“Stay away from what might have been and look at what will be.” -Marsha Petrie Sue

When I look back at some of the most painful moments of my life, I see myself sitting alone feeling either immense shame or regret.

It’s bizarre how we can get so offended and angry when other people hurt us and yet repeatedly choose to torture ourselves—far worse than they possibly could—through repeated mental rehashing.

For the longest time, my biggest regret revolved around missing out on life. From a distance, people always thought I had everything going for me. Up close, you could see the cracks in that facade: no matter what I got, I was painfully discontent and depressed, and often isolated in fear.

I remember my last night in NYC at 25, sitting in a tiny boxed-up efficiency studio apartment that I rented in a low-income building. I’d been in the apple for two-and-a-half years, and my greatest accomplishments were barely noticeable to anyone but myself.

Granted, they were big ones: I’d quit smoking, formed a yoga practice, and began the slow uphill climb to liking who I was.

But the list of what I didn’t do often felt far more compelling: I didn’t form many real friendships, I never had a story book NYC romance like I dreamed about, and I never even once auditioned for a play after growing up on the stage.

I went to NYC to convince the world I was strong, then broke into a million little pieces and, in stubborn resistance to “giving up,” spent two years trying to glue myself back together.

For a long time, I regretted that I went to the city where dreams come true and did absolutely nothing to go after mine. Then I realized something: I was not that girl anymore, and in another second, I would again be someone new.

At any moment I could let go of the weight of who I’d been and allow myself a better chance of becoming who I wanted to be.

What I did or didn’t do could either paralyze me further or motivate me to do something now—something not conceived in reaction to past disappointments, but something born completely anew from a moment of strength and empowerment.

We can all do that. At any time, you can take your regrets and:

1. Identify and address your weaknesses.

Oftentimes, when we acknowledgement our weaknesses there’s an implied sense of judgment, as if we should never make any mistakes. The alternative is to accept that everyone makes mistakes and then focus on what we can do differently going forward.

For me that meant discovering why I was so afraid of putting myself out there. The rewards of learning to conquer that fear in the present far outweigh the pain of having given into it in the past.

2. Use your mistake as a teaching tool.

In my time writing for ‘tweens, I’ve read many letters from girls who’ve learned to beat themselves up by watching their parents’ response to mistakes. If you forgive yourself and bounce right back, you empower them to respond the same way.

If you’re like me and don’t have any children, think of it as helping everyone around you. I know when I see someone fall down and get back up without stressing over what they could have done differently I feel inspired. It reminds me that it is possible, and I can do it, too.

3. Use the opportunity to become better at adapting.

Most big mistakes present instant changes to reality as you know it. When I first arrived in NYC at 22, I got involved in a pyramid scam thinking it was a shortcut to success and blew through my savings. What’s worse, I unknowingly pulled other people into a sinking ship that went under with their money.

I couldn’t believe I’d been so naïve. I couldn’t change what I’d done, but I could take my new set of circumstances and challenges and plan a strategy to get back where I wanted to be. Any time we practice adapting, we create the possibility of happiness that doesn’t depend on perfect conditions.

4. Strengthen your ability to focus on things you can control.

If you cheated on your boyfriend after one too many margaritas you probably wish you could go back and show more restraint. Unfortunately what you should have done is now irrelevant. All you can do is move forward from where you are.

This is an invaluable skill because it empowers us to take positive action instead of falling into a shame cycle.

5. Embrace impermanence.

Everything in life is impermanent. While I’m not thrilled when my actions end a relationship or good situation, this reminds me to appreciate everyone and everything in the moment. There are no guarantees in life—even if I make very few mistakes.

6. Evaluate your relationships.

Think of this as your It’s a Wonderful Life moment. You’re down on your luck and vulnerable. You have to do some major life restructuring to rebound from whatever you just experienced. Are your friends there for you, offering forgiveness and support—even if it takes them a little time to get there? If not, this may be a perfect time to remove unhealthy relationships from your life.

This may also give you a chance to strengthen your relationships. If you hurt someone else, take this opportunity to discover what really motivated your actions, and then let yourself get vulnerable with them. We’re all human, and nothing brings us together like acknowledging our universal struggles.

7. Get better at accepting blame.

I know many people who would sooner donate their organs to science then take responsibility. We’ve all passed the buck at one time or another because it’s a risk to admit culpability. Still there’s something empowering about saying, “I screwed up and I accept the consequences.”

8. Challenge your thinking.

There’s a quote that reads “Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction.” If your mistake propels you toward a better future then it’s actually a blessing in disguise. I realize mistakes oftentimes present challenges, but ultimately, you can only move forward if you find opportunities in your reality—whatever that may be.

The crazy thing about regret is that is seems imperative sometimes—as if we have to indulge it like a bed we made and now have to lie in. Yet there’s nothing compelling us to dwell on the way things could have been. The only thing that keeps us stuck in lost possibilities is the refusal to focus on new ones.

Life is now, and we always have a choice: do we drown in regret over what never came to be, or use our energy to create what can be? Today I am choosing the latter.

Photo by cdelalcazar

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series (which includes one free eBook) and Tiny Buddha's Guide to Loving Yourself. She's also the co-founder of the eCourse Recreate Your Life Story: Change the Script and Be the HeroFollow @tinybuddha for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Crystallynn1085

    I read your quotes everyday!! They are so inspiring and it seems like every quote that I read everyday is fitting for what’s going on in my life! Thank you so much!

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewKorf Andrew Korf

    thank you. saving the day today.

  • ggirl

    wow. this was deeply profound. a great one page summary on life. thanks!

  • Cassandra

    Thank you. Tiny Buddha so often posts the things I need to hear. Here’s my question, though. What if accepting blame, apologizing, taking responsibility and trying to do what I can to make the situation isn’t better? What if people misunderstand my motives and misinterpret why I did things? How does one rebuild trust? I know that these things take time. I know people need to have their feelings. And yet, I’m having a lot of difficulty with incorrect motives being assigned to me. And then there is my own guilt and sense of failure to contend with. I’m really struggling.

  • Hippiechick966

    The only thing you have control over is you, so accept that you have no control over other peoples perceptions of you and your actions. I have been struggling with this a lot lately, and it keeps getting reinforced that people will believe whatever they want to believe.

  • Minnie

    Some wise words and good advice. But I suspect that regret is easier to handle when one is in ones 20s and 30s, however horrendous the experiences may have seemed. Sorry this is kids stuff really. Try it later in life and it’s not so easy when time is running out… I know people who have made such impactful decisions, there’s no way forward when health and opportunities have diminished. I don’t know what to tell them

  • Christina

    This is good stuff! Even though my life is so much better than it used to be and I’m clearly making progress, I can see that the biggest thing still holding me back is regret. I *think* I”m slowly getting past all that, and the crucial moment happened when I was finally able to accept blame for the parts I played, forgive myself for them, and totally let go of the parts I had no control over.

    Guilt and regret was impacting my physical health, which started to improve as soon as I was finally able to put everything behind me. Sure, it still pops up in my mind from time to time, but I’m more and more able to either look at it dispassionately or with humor, or banish any negative thoughts altogether.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Minnie,

    I can understand your perspective here–that it’s hard when you know you have less time. But that begs the question: do we ever really know how much time we have? I am in my 30s, so I can’t speak to what it feels like to be 60 and disappointed with the way I’ve spent my time. I do, however, know people in their 20s and 30s with potentially fatal diseases. Their time may be running out, too.

    My philosophy here is that all we can ever control is our attitude. It might be harder as we get older and pile up disappointments, but I suspect its the best way to change how often we’re disappointed going forward. Time may be running out, but as long as there’s time, we have a choice.

    Of course this is what I believe now, and I can’t say for certain it won’t change over time . Ask me again in 30 years and we’ll see where I stand!

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Christina,

    Congrats on the positive momentum! Your story sounds a lot like mine. Guilt and regret affected my physical and emotional well-being in a big way. I’m glad to hear you’ve made such amazing strides in your journey. Thanks for reading and commenting. =)

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Cassandra,

    I think you hit the nail on the head: it just takes time. And part of its also about acceptance. All we can do is explain ourselves to the best of our ability and then trust that in time, the people who care about us will forgive and understand that we may have made bad choices but we didn’t have bad intentions. Sometimes people just need to go through their own process at their own rate–and we don’t get a say in when they’re ready.

    I know that isn’t a very comforting thing to hear, but I’ve been in that place before. I tried to focus on the lesson of letting go of the things I can’t control. Once you’ve said your part, all you can do is allow space and time and accept that you can’t make people believe things they aren’t ready to believe.

    Still, that doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty until they’re ready to shift what they think. One thing I’m still learning is that how I feel about myself doesn’t have to parallel what other people feel about me. Just because someone else judges my choices that doesn’t mean I have to judge myself.

    I hope this helps a little.

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome. Thank you for reading!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for reading. =)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad you enjoy Tiny Buddha! Thanks for reading and commenting. =)

  • Alyssa

    I just discovered this blog today and am a huge fan. I can literally remember every mistake and embarrassment of my life, but I never seem to dwell on the things I’ve accomplished. I need this sort of positive thinking in my life!

    Thanks,

    Alyssa

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Alyssa. Welcome to Tiny Buddha!

    I know that feeling well. I’ve also spent a lot of time dwelling on all types of tiny mistakes and embarrassments. Something I’ve been working on is counting my accomplishments at the end of the day. We always hear that we should count our blessings and I think that’s great advice–but we also need to remember that we are one of those blessings!

    Thanks for reading and commenting. =)

    Lori

  • Mara

    Lovely article(!) as all the articles I’ve read since I’ve subscribed :) thank you for sharing your experiences. I’m going through some major changes in my life and it is so easy to relate. Its very supportive and motivating feeling, that there are lots of people like me who want to bring calmness and joy into their live by understanding that only we, ourselves, impose constrains upon ourselves though fear, anger etc. which are generated by the continuous thinking of our minds but this is just another lesson to learn, a very important one, we either let ourselves to be controlled by emotions generated by our biased mind or to learn to cooperate with it by understanding it (as a result understanding ourselves and others). My latest epiphany was “Happiness requires training” which derived from a lot of “Practice, practice, practice” of meditation and finally realising that good things take time, as i experiencing already super positive results and can see a lot more on the horizon :))))

  • Robinkilburn

    this post seemed to be written just for me. my status on fb, written before I read this was” if your world crashes, learn the cause, pick up the pieces you want and get on with it”
    the struggle goes on but it is less of a burden.
    thank you Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I like that–pick up the pieces you want. It almost makes crashing sound valuable since you get to leave the pieces that you may no longer need. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Donna

    I enjoyed this post very much. Very thought provoking and the reading of it, well-timed. Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. =)

  • Pingback: Best Ways to Quit Smoking – Quit Smoking for Good! | Health News and Tips

  • Pingback: Review: 20 ways to make $100 per day | Worldwide Affiliate Marketing Guide Secrets

  • Pingback: 3 Simple Surefire Ways How To Get Rid Of Acne Scars | Clearing Acne

  • Pingback: Ways to make money off the internet? | Free Way To Make Money

  • http://twitter.com/30vanquish Matt R

    A bit late in responding but I really enjoyed this article. It helped me acknowledge the fact that there is nothing I can personally do about mistakes and the past. Regret is such a wasteful emotion, don’t you think? I would rather bask in the happy nostalgia of the past joy a situation brought; or give myself a pat on the back for giving the effort in a situation. The mistake of the past simply lets us know that what we did was wrong. If we were always right, what would be the fun and adventure in learning and discovering things about life?

    This is an article that I stumbled on at just the right moment. Thank you for writing this.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Well said! Regret doesn’t change anything that happened; it just limits what can happen now. Thanks for reading and sharing your perspective. =)

  • Canadiandude79

    I found this blog after doing a search on “regret”. My regret story is complicated – at least I feel it is complicated. Has to do with letting time slip away; not being in touch with some people, friends and then the few years became a decade, now two decades; I missed out on some great years – kids growing up etc. At the time, my guilt made me not take action; now I’m angry I missed out and had just done something at 10 years past; I was young myself, so I sorta try not to be hard on myself. but all I can say is it eats at me, kinda cuz its like you don’t know what you got till its gone. I’m trying to live today; but at the same time wondering what if…what if I had been more in “their life” back then. Hope this rambling makes sense. It’s one of those things that I know I can’t change. but it eats at me saying I wish I could travel back in time, and the anger of knowing I can’t. Almost like someone dying and you are angry you cant bring them back. The people aren’t dead, and I have re-connected, but I’m still angry about the time missed…and kids not knowing me because of it

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I can relate to what you wrote in a big way. There are certain stubborn beliefs that I held for years, and as a result, I missed out on certain things that I sometimes wish I could go back and re-experience. What helps me is to remember that every day I worry about what I missed, I am missing more. That thought pulls me back into the moment because, while we can never go back and change what we’ve done, we can do our best not to let any more days slip away.

    I hope this post helped you somewhat. You are in my thoughts!

    Lori

  • Canadiandude79

    Lori,

    Thank you for the response and for saying I’m in your thoughts. It did help some; I think what you said does support how I’ve been trying to cope with it; I suppose it gets a bit easier each day – but not to minimize what you have said; your words HAVE given me new thoughts that will help.

    I think the only analogy I can use – and sidebar note is @ 20 there was no way I could have had this insight I don’t think, so I shouldn’t be so hard on myself – is falling asleep in 1986 lets just say, and waking up and it’s 2000 or even 1995…..life has carried on…the train of life has carried on;when you closed your eyes, the locomotive was right there in the window as you watched the train go by….now you open your eyes and the whole train has gone by, and in fact the train tracks aren’t even there anymore….they’ve lifted up the ties, the rails because they don’t use that railline anymore. meanwhile I’m sitting there wanting to see why I didn’t see the train go by; and people are using other means to get there.

    Imagine knowing a cousin err something like that as a young kid; then you kinda keep in touch…and time goes on but it always knaws at you what did they grow up like.

    In my case I know the person has grown up…but I missed 90% of their life….its just very very wierd…..but thanks for letting me ramble. I don’t know what to think whether there is a benefit in trying to know them… I could…it’s just very wierd. Whats done is done as for the past. Thanks again!

  • Perkinslisa35

    This post really helped me begin to deal with my past unwise decisions. I am a work in progress. Thank you for posting this..

  • Chelsea11Jean

    Hi Lori,
    Thanks for commenting to Minnie’s response. She was saying exactly what I was feeling. I’m 48yrs old and have been through really bad times being a molested, rape survivor and trying daily to overcome the way it has molded me and not having the proper upbringing to encourage me that I do have worth in this life and a grew up in a violent household due to an alcoholic father and co-dependent mother. I have no children..I became barren at the age of 21 when I got married to a man who used me for citizenship which of course ended with me divorcing him. I never got into a relationship again, I have no friends who care about me, family relationships are hateful and superficial, nobody loves me no matter how kind I am and how much I reach out, I feel like I’m cursed because of all these things, obstical after obstical. Now I find myself, having finally finished college in a position of not being able to work because of an accident that have damaged my back, 2 spine surgeries that have failed and I’m in pain all the time living on pain pills..and so many more things. I find myself daily dealing with depression and trying to find reasons to live. I’m in mental health therapy and on anti-depressants to help me through my life.
    My brother died in Jan 2010 (48yrs old) of heart disease and I wished so much that I could die and give my heart to him because his basket was getting full for once and had so much more to live for.
    I came to this site when I typed in google about looking for help. Your words really encouraged me because, I believe due to my healing from my trauma, I find myself in despair over the barreness of my life. It’s like I want to try to recoupe all the things that I missed out on, now that I’ve come into myself and am now feeling after being numb all my life.  And now I realize that I can’t recoupe it. I don’t have control over this. I can’t go back and live my life over again. I need to look at where I am now and look at who I am now and go from here. Lots of time has been lost and it’s gone forever, there is mourning in loss and it’s normal; that’s where I find myself today, but the days I have ahead, no matter how long, or short is what I have to deal with.  True we don’t know how much time we have. Each day is not promised to anyone..young or old. We all hope we have time to do all the things we want in this life, but as you said, it has to do with our individual attitudes because that is all we can control.  With the time we have left, moving forward, we have a choice of how we’re going to spend this time.
    I’m going to spend this time developing my talents. I can sing. I love musical arts. Now with my free time I will learn how to read music and play an instrument.
    Thank you for your help.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Chelsea,

    Your story was heartbreaking to read, because you have been through so much and I wish I could take all that pain away from you. I’m glad that you found your way here and that you found this helpful. I think its wonderful you’re going to focus on your talents. I remember one day after I’d been singing in the shower, a neighbor told me they really enjoyed hearing me sing. It was an awkward moment, for sure, but it also made me think: sometimes we have no idea how we effect other people for the better. I’m sure your voice has made people smile more times than you realize. I hope you give that gift to many more people going forward. The world deserves a chance to know the beauty that only you can share.

    Sending you love and light,
    Lori

  • Clementine

    It has been 8 months since my breakup and mostly this time has been spent in… regret. Suddenly, I stopped and thought: “I really need to stop feeling this way, where can I find help?” I googled and now I’m here with a new found sense of purpose and optimism to carry on with my life. It’s very simple, and for a long time the cycle seemed “unbreakable” but it is and I am just so grateful that someone somewhere took the time to write this :D Many blessings your way. 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome, Clementine. I’m happy to help. Many blessings your way, as well!

  • Pingback: Love is a Choice: 30 Ways to Love in Action | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In

  • Live4now

    I really enjoyed this article although I am still in the stage of living yesterdays regrets I do feel after this read I am content to stop this cycle of beating myself up about what I should’ve, could’ve and now focus on today, tomorrow and the positive that is around me, because who knows if those decisions I made were really the wrong ones because I have so much that is wonderful around me.  I need to now focus on new possiblities and not be afraid to live in the now. Thank you

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome. It sounds like you’re in a great mental place at the moment, shifting your focus to today. That’s great! I’m sending good thoughts your way. =)

  • Saajida Asmal1

    Hi lori just read ur post now . I am a 43 year old,divorced women.I grew up with my dads family bec my mum is mentally ill and my dad was on drugs who used to beat my mum. I grew up with no love. When I got married my husband cheated on me,sexually abused and beat me with a belt.I was maried for 12 years now divorced for 7 years.I am happy to be free from my abuse . My daughter and son live with my exhusband and his new wife. My only regret is that I did not do more to get my children to stay with me. Now they are grown and I haved missed out on them .they now choose to live with their dad . Although I am a teacher I come home to an empty flat and miss my children very much. I beat myself up everyday for this regret .my kids don’t live in the same town as I and I rarely see them

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Saajida,

    I can only imagine how difficult all this must have been to you, to have witnessed what you did growing up, and then experienced abuse in your own marriage. I can understand why it would be distressing to live without your children. Are you still able to see them regularly?

    You are in my thoughts!

    Lori

  • Roryboss

    Not a good review,I just left my grandfathers death bed with so much things to say and so much to hear from hear,neither of those things will ever happen now.This is a regret that I will have the burden of for the rest of my life.

  • Roryboss

     Not a good review,I just left my grandfathers death bed with so much
    things to say and so much to hear.This is a regret that I will have the burden of for the
    rest of my life.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so sorry for your loss Roryboss. 

  • Roland Mirabueno

    This is an awesome post. I just finished writing my own tips about this and I guess I should’ve read this as well! 

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you enjoyed this Roland!

  • anon

    Yes, when you become old one’s regrets and failures are indeed a terrible burden, there is no solution but to stoically accept responsibility for being selfish, cruel and even cowardly, pain is your punishment, I try to help the weak and vulnerable now that the hour glass is dwindling, but I wish I had done it all my useless life.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    That breaks my heart, to think you believe you have to feel pain as your punishment. I’m sure you did the best you could, even if you made mistakes in the past. I think it’s wonderful that you try to help people now. I know this may not mean much considering how little I know about you, but based on what you wrote, it seems like your life is far from useless.

  • huma

    hello…..i was sitting drowned in regret for not working hard in my exam….ur article helped me….thanx

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad it helped! =)

  • Janet

    How can regret be handled when your in a relationship that reminds us ofour past everyday. I am a mother, was married at 17, never enjoyed my life, no work, no school.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Do you enjoy any of our life now?

  • Janet

    No, I’m actually in a new relationship. Is hard to communicate with the trust has been broken.

  • Elizabeth

    I found your article when I googled “When are the mistakes of my past going to quit hurting my children.” I was married to an abusive man for 15 years til I got the courage to leave. Took my four children with me. Within months I fell in love with an awesome KIND man who loves me and my children and I had 3 more children with him. My seven children love each other. My mistake: I allowed my oldest two children to go live with their father within the first six months of me leaving him – that was 2004. He was such a smooth operator and I was so naive. He created divorce papers that stated the children could come back and forth as they wanted to either parent within reason (a year at a time), said he was sorry for all the abuse, it was his fault not mine, he was a new person, it changed his life me leaving him, etc, etc. I was in love at the time, full of dopamine (heard a preacher say thats what goes on in our brain chemistry when we fall in love), he even wanted to be friends with my new love. I was 33 tgoing on 14. I married him when I was 19 – to basically show my dad that he couldn’t tell me what to do anymore – brilliant, I know. I badly wanted my own family as my dad was a hot head and my step mom very abusive. My mom was okay, just selfish and had left when I was 8. Anyway – we signed the papers – me high on life – thinking this was restoration from God, Beauty for the Ashes. My ex really sorry – wanting me to be happy. My son who was 9 and daughter who was 7 both wanted to live with their daddy. My son said he would hate me if I didn’t let him go, he missed his daddy. I never wanted to take away my ex’s life, nor my kids Dad. I just wanted him to stop being abusive. And to my knowledge “then” he hadnt been abusive to them. So I let my son go. My daughter went a few months later – she was daddy’s girl – I was so devastated they wanted to go, but the only thing my ex and I had ever agreed on was that if we ever divorced we wouldn’t force our children to stay with one parent or the other – we would always give them a choice – unlike what we both had growing up – no choice. Boy was I an idiot. Within a year he beat the hell out of both of them leaving saucer size bruises. Got emergency custody – he got a lawyer – I didn’t think I needed one – he got the whole thing thrown out because his lawyer said I filed in the wrong county. Next thing you know the police are hauling my children off to the bastard who beat them – bruises and all. I was stunned and sick. He then kept them from me a whole year as I waited for a court date to try and get custody – I lost. 10k later for a lawyer for me, a guarden ad litem (spelling) for my kids, the redneck polk county judge said the kids were fine where they were, they had A’s, and for my ex not to touch them again. I saw them for one weekend as the judge told him to resume visitation immediately “this weekend”. Then my ex kept the from me AGAIN. Three months later we get to court and the judge asks him why he didn’t resume visitation and he tells him I did – you said for the weekend. Of course the judge clarified he meant rotating weekends and not to do it again or he would hold him in contempt. Ever since then my kids have been abused emotionally, and just found out – over the years he continued to beat them – which they kept from me out of fear. Their younger two siblings live with me. They all four stick together during visitation weekends. I did win that part in court. So here we are all these years later. He is emotionally abusive to them on a daily basis. My son – who is an A student – is an Idiot with no goals, and my daughter is a whore and a slut! Now what can I do about it? Watch…listen… cry and beat myself up for being an idiot. If I make waves, he keeps them from me, turns off the phones, refuses to see the younger two. They want to come live with me but can’t. What court, especially in redneck polk county florida, is going to go against a fellow good ole’ boy whose ex wife is out to wreck his reputation. I have read case after case of women losing cases to abusive men in Florida. So what do I do with my regret – I watch my children pay every day for it. People say go to court. Once I file, he will not let me see them. Period. My son is 16, daughter 14. The two that live with me are daughter 13 and son 10. He sacrifices seeing them, to keep me from the oldest two to keep me in line. Its brilliant – it works. Others say – they are old enough – they have a voice. My 16 year old is going to be 17 and counting the days til 18. My 14 year old daughter is scared for him to leave her. Yet she is scared to hurt her dad as he told them both in the past couple months after he verbally assaulted them that if they wanted to go live with their f…ng mom go ahead and he would write all of them off and go home to Texas waving F..k you all. Briliant manipulation once again. So I married and had children with a sociopath. He is like the movie “sleeping with the enemy”. Yet he has a silver tongue and is very believable to strangers, including judges and pastors. He convinced a pastor who I had known since I was a little girl, within 15 minutes, that I was having an affair – the pastor told me I need to quit lying and fess up. BLEW MY MIND! So how in the world do I help my children – talk about the sins of the fathers being visited upon their children… My kids are the living example of my stupidity and big heart. Wanting to believe he had really finally changed…. So if a judge knowingly gave them back with bruises he told my ex he felt confident my ex inflicted on them, how is a judge going to rule in my favor on just emotional abuse, and how am I supposed to even prove it when in Florida judged “frown” on putting children on the stand…I don’t know what to do except tell my children I am so sorry I put them in this situation. I apologize all the time. They tell me it alright. Its not my fault – that their dad does this to them. Still – everyone told me not to let them go – yet I felt 110% that it was what I was supposed to do – that God was behind my decision – meanwhile I bawled like a baby doing it – I just wanted to give them the choice my dad never ever let me have. I am going to get a psychologist to try and counsel me and my children. I have to do this on the down low as he has forbid them to go to counseling…Some advise me to file for custody, let him flip, tell them to stand up to him, take a beating and then maybe the judge will rule in our favor – REALLY?? How can I tell my kids to take another beating in the hopes a judge will rule on our side… Besides it didn’t count before anyway. Others tell me to get DCF involved and the police. I did back then, both of them told me quote “We can’t do anything unless there is blood or scars, bruising does not count.” I was told this in the orlando police station – we even showed the officer the bruises. So how do I help my children now – say they can’t get out – what can I do to help them survive and not break…how can I live with myself. They have forgiven me – but I can’t…

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I am so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through. I can only imagine how difficult this has been. I’m at a complete loss for words, as I really don’t know what I would do if I were in your shoes. I don’t know much about how the court system works, and I don’t have experience with sociopaths.

    I know this is likely an obvious suggestion, but have you looked into resources/hotlines specifically geared toward people dealing with domestic violence?

    I wish I could do more to help. My heart really goes out to you…

    Lori

  • love lee

    I’m a female in my early 40′s and I regret ruining a relationship with a great guy due to my trust issues and insecurities I had at the time. It’s been two years since then, a few short term relationships later, that didn’t turn out well…and I rereminded again how i screwed up the best thing that came into my life. He has since moved on and is happily involved with someone for over a year now. I wouldn’t deny him his happiness and wouldn’t ever contact him again. I made the ending quite chaotic, he wouldn’t want any part of me again anyway. What I would do to have him and the experience all over again and to do things differently. I’m having a difficult time believing there are any guys like him or better out there right now….and sometimes when I’m feeling gloomy, I get in fairytale land I guess, and just with he would return.

  • Nitin sharma

    Hey lori, its a beautiful post :)
    i have just 1 regret. People close to me leaves me saying that i am over possessive. I care for them n they just leave me saying i can never change, i have started hating myself for who i am. I keep on crying every second how they might be doing, is everything ohk in there life. But no one see me crying. Is it really so bad to care for others? I just wanna get rid off myself. I tried many things to overcome but nothing helped. Is there any hope for me? I don’t think so :( tough i love dis post. I’ll keep it in mind.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so sorry to hear you’re hurting like this. Of course there is hope for you! What things have you tried to overcome your possessiveness?

  • anna

    I thought many times before getting into your web site. I thought you were a scam. My sincere apologies. I contacted you because my personal life was upside down. My husband for 5 years was going in the wrong direction. He got attracted by a mysterious woman at work, and moved with her for 4 months. I told you my problem, and after a couple of weeks I received your package things started to be as before. He came back to our house saying he doesn’t know what happened, and he was sorry about leaving. Our relationship is stronger than ever. Thanks helptemple@yahoo.com

  • hope98

    Hello Lori,is there a way to communicate with you..and seek any advice?pls let me know.

    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there – A great place to get advice is in the newly launched forums:

    http://tinybuddha.com/forums

    By posting in there you can seek advice from anyone who can relate to your experiences.

    You can sign up here:

    http://www.tinybuddha.com/register

    You can communicate with me personally there or here.

    Lori

  • hope98

    Thanks Lori.
    How about I’d I wanna share and ask just you.?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I can do my best to help! I started the forums partly because I get a lot of requests for advice through emails and comments, and I know there are a lot of insightful people in the community here who could also help. So if you’d like to share your thoughts here, feel free, or you could reach out to others there.

  • Jo23

    I know this is an older article and not sure if you’re still reading comments! However today its very relevant for me.

    The problem I have is that I understand all the points your making, they are helpful and I agree. But I still can’t stop feeling the regret and being so sad and angry – greiving basically. I have let my entire 20s go by living in a part of the world I really didn’t want to be – because I wasn’t brave enough to move when my partner didn’t want to. I have really struggled where we live, its not the right place for me. Whenever I tried to talk to him about it he made me feel ungrateful, naive, guilty, any number of bad things. I am now turning 30 and am finally brave enough to go and have let him know its with or without him. But I feel like I’m finally starting to live my own life at 30 and have missed out on all the great possibilities that were there for me – and now there isn’t time. I can’t travel the world and build a career now – I have achieved neither to date – and now I have to choose one or the other to prioritise before kids come along and tie me down for good! I can’t stop beating myself up about it and I can’t get past the resentment I have towards my partner and myself.
    Articles like this really do help but I’m not sure if the regret ever goes away?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I am still reading comments! I think regret goes away when we make peace with the present. I know you mentioned you’re planning to start a family soon, but is there any way to also do the other things you want to do? Could you travel a little by planning some short trips? Could you start working on a passion and see where that leads you?

  • annointed grimalia

    PUBLIC NOTICE.
    its your opportunity to restore your love and achieve your heart desire emotionally.
    i Marian dosi a medical by profession, have be single for the past 4 years.
    To me, having a man that will suit me and a man of enviable class was like a dream i can never achieve. But on November 24th 2011 when i meet the ANOINTED DR GRIMALIA, i sent him a mail which consist of my problems.. he replied me with the necessary things i need to do help solve my problems. lo and behold now, i am married to a well known Canadian a professor of English. and men of different high class are still begging to come close.
    i strongly believe that, this is your time testify, achieve and have the man or woman that you desire only with the help of DR GRIMALIA
    CONTACT HIM NOW ON grimaliaterbanacle@gmail.com PUBLIC NOTICE.
    its your opportunity to restore your love and achieve your heart desire emotionally.
    i Marian dosi a medical by profession, have be single for the past 4 years.
    To me, having a man that will suit me and a man of enviable class was like a dream i can never achieve. But on November 24th 2011 when i meet the ANOINTED DR GRIMALIA, i sent him a mail which consist of my problems.. he replied me with the necessary things i need to do help solve my problems. lo and behold now, i am married to a well known Canadian a professor of English. and men of different high class are still begging to come close.
    i strongly believe that, this is your time testify, achieve and have the man or woman that you desire only with the help of DR GRIMALIA
    CONTACT HIM NOW ON grimaliaterbanacle@gmail.com PUBLIC NOTICE.
    its your opportunity to restore your love and achieve your heart desire emotionally.
    i Marian dosi a medical by profession, have be single for the past 4 years.
    To me, having a man that will suit me and a man of enviable class was like a dream i can never achieve. But on November 24th 2011 when i meet the ANOINTED DR GRIMALIA, i sent him a mail which consist of my problems.. he replied me with the necessary things i need to do help solve my problems. lo and behold now, i am married to a well known Canadian a professor of English. and men of different high class are still begging to come close.
    i strongly believe that, this is your time testify, achieve and have the man or woman that you desire only with the help of DR GRIMALIA
    CONTACT HIM NOW ON grimaliaterbanacle@gmail.com

  • Bene

    I was crushed when my lover of three years left to be with another woman. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I reached out to the Internet for help. I threw away so much money – all for nothing – until I hit on the real thing. And that is you, Dr. Lametu. You were different from all the rest – you are the diamond in the rough. Thank you from the depths of my soul! I am extremely happy now. I hope God blesses you as much as He has blessed me. Meet him for real help via Ancientspiritualtemple@gmail.com

  • Marc Gold

    This was actually very helpful. I copied the article and eliminated the advice sections, and typed out what I was going through into each section. Things seem much clearer now. Thanks!

  • depressed person

    Hi, I’m in my college years and my situation is that every after quizzes and exams I regret too much, thinking what I could’ve answered in that question, like those things. Guilt, hopelessness, I hate myself so much! My mind’s always like “You could’ve studied more you know, you might have answered those if you did!” I study, but it’s always not enough…I feel so inferior to my classmates who keep getting good results. Why can’t I be like them?

  • Simon

    This has helped me a lot, but I have long way to go. I have done something I regret and it is torturing me everyday. Its turning me into an emotional wreck and gut wrenching. I have definitely learnt my lesson and more about the person I want to be. I’ve learnt that I should treat others how I expect to be treated and to be less selfish (amongst a million other things).

    I have read other people’s posts on here, and I also feel their pain. A lot of it seems to stem from the fact that we all wish we could turn the clocks back and do things differently.

    I’m trying to decide how to move forward now. Hopefully, as a better person than before. This post can be a reminder to myself of this.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this helped, Simon! I know it can be tough to forgive yourself. Sometimes it just takes time.

  • Natalie

    I really feel good with myself after reading and analyzing what I did wrong which was cheating on a test, besides you really give great advice

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this helped, Natalie!

  • Nicole

    Hey Simon, Your post spoke the most to me and I guess I just wanted to check in and see if you’ve forgiven yourself in these last months? or are looking at the positives. My regret is still fresh and your words rang true. If you’re feeling better, I could too. any inspiration to give?
    If not, good luck to you. Remember that you’re not the only one. Not by a long shot

    -Nicole

  • Ria

    I found this article because I’m sick with shame over taking action on vengeful thoughts. The skinny: I was in a toxic and violent relationship with a man that ended 6 weeks ago. I was doing well, keeping my boundaries and learning to move on, when I mistakenly contacted him to wish him a merry Christmas. What ensued was me operating from my lowest self: I went over to his house, waited for him to return, we talked and cried and slept together. There was some acting as though there was possibility of repair, although I knew in my gut there wasn’t: he was bad for me. How bad and toxic I didn’t really understand until I sunk low enough to send a lengthy email to his new girlfriend ‘warning’ her about him. After sending it, I realized the truth was that I wanted to hurt him in every way imagine able. I wished I could take it back. Attempts at apologizing we’re met with anger (rightly deserved) on her part, which only adds to my regret.

  • Ria

    I don’t know how to move through it past this. I’m so depressed I can’t get out of bed.

  • palmeria

    I don’t know if you’ll see this nearly a year later. But you will find that kind of man/relationship again. I promise. Only this time, you’ll recognize it, and you will appreciate it and act…I guess act and be how you “should have been” in that previous relationships. You’ll love better, be more open, and handle fights, arguments, insecurity, all that stuff differently. I say this because it happened to me. :)

  • zarraE

    So true. I get lost all the time in “what might have been”….or why didnt I make a different decision….It is of a form of self doubt. It will plague you until you can breakthrough trying to change things in the past. I mean, I’m young and I should not feel like my life is over because I wished I’d done something that I didn’t. We all have BRIGHT futures….we just need to see them. We need to get over the past somehow, so that we can reach our full potential. Don’t let anyone hold you back. As hard as it is to let something that you wish could be different go , we must do it because the past is the past and is dead and gone. the future is what we need to pour our energy into planning!!! I realize now that the past is the enemy we are fighting and the future is the bright sunshine which awaits us. Sometimes I forget…We will not live forever!!! Do what you want in life and let nothing and no one change that.

  • SSFF

    Wow this article is dated from 3 yrs ago and its still getting responses because its so helpful! Lori, if you still read responses and answer, hope you can help with my dilemma too
    I’m a woman in my early 30′s, in my early 20′s, I went to study abroad (to the US) and spent almost a decade working and enjoying a great life being independent before returning back to my country, due to visa issues. At that time, I did not realize what a big change I was making in my life. Once I was back, I worked in my field for awhile but hated the culture change, and quit my job to take a break. After which I opted for a more creative field and started work within the family for our clothing store.
    Its been 3.5 yrs since, and I’ve gone back to the US for a visit since then, and I repeatedly feel that I made a huge mistake by coming back home, especially when I see my friends and peers living the life, and back home, even though I love my new work, I feel its more that I latched on to this work because I didn’t know what else to do and I don’t really take a monthly salary (it would be nowhere near to what I earned before anyways), just spend what I need to, so I feel like at the stage where I should be super independent and earn a lot of money (like my peers are doing), I’m mooching off my family and parents instead. It makes me feel like a failure, and I’m just not able to shake that feeling off that I made a huge mistake and keep thinking of how I can go back to the States only. Also, I feel its too late now for all this, I’m already at a point where I should be more settled, in my life and career, instead of flitting back and forth like this
    Any advice on how I can gain all my old confidence back and move on from this regret?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I’m glad this was helpful to you! I will do my best to offer advice on what you wrote. It sounds like you’re stuck in two ways:

    -You’re thinking life would have been better if you hadn’t left the US
    -You’re feeling like you can’t change your life going forward because it’s “too late” now.

    Perhaps it would help to change your perception and challenge your thoughts/beliefs.

    Instead of focusing on what you think you lost because you left the US, perhaps you could shift your focus to what you may have gained.

    Is there anything you learned in the last few years? Anything this time has taught you to appreciate? Did you form any new insights about yourself? If you can view the time that’s passed as somehow beneficial for your growth, it will be easier to accept the past instead of regretting it.

    It will also be easier to do this if you realize you are not stuck now–you can take what you’ve learned and act on it. There’s no rule book that says when you need to be settled. And really, what good is it to be settled if you’re settled in a situation you’re not happy with?

    So that’s my advice: focus on what you’ve learned from this experience, and then ask yourself how you can use what you learned to improve your life going forward.

    I hope this helps!
    Lori

  • LDH

    We cannot change the past…We can however change how we feel about the past…by changing how we feel about the past…we change what the past or various events of the past mean to us…so in way we can can change the past.

  • Becky Salami

    1 Hello people on this forum or website , am just an over exerting person today for what this great man call DR ABULU of worldwidesupremetemple@gmail.com has just done in my marital life .and i will like you on this forum to help me in thanking he because for the past two years my husband Micheal has been cheating on me with a Russian lady and this has couse the family a lot of problems and our baby Evonne where the one perpetual taking the pain because at this time my husband don’t normally come home to ask after the child or care to provide what the child needed so with all this problems i was not happy in my marriage and i started going for different kind of marriage cancelling and looking for solution every where not until this faithful day when i was browsing on the internet i saw a testimony shared by miss Michell from Australia about this DR ABULU of worldwidesupremetemple@gmail.com and i as-lo contacted he for help and that was how he gave me some instructions and i followed what ever he told me,and i was surprise when he said to me go my child for all will be fine in 24 hours .and within the 24 hours i actually received a call from my husband who has not called me for some months now asking after the child and i . and that was how was the end of my marriage problems . so this is why i promise to testify to the whole world about this man DR ABULU and if any is also depress with such problems contact he and you will also find success

  • David

    Man I wish I would have read this article when I was young. There were so many problems happened in my life that I felt I could have dealt with them better. Unfortnately, it’s already too late. I’ve learnt that if I wasn’t so misguided and naive when I was young, I would be in a better position for the future that I envisioned and won’t be contemplating about my past. Therefore, I strongly suggest that young kids should take a earlier step and read this as well. At least they can turn their lives around and stop following the footsteps of the mistakes that I made.
    “Lost time is never found again” -Benjamin Franklin

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi David,

    It breaks my heart to think you think it’s too late for you. Why do you feel that way?

    Lori

  • http://magnificent-road.blogspot.ca/ Anastasia (Magnificent Road)

    This is a lovely article. Thank you so much. :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you, and you’re most welcome! :)