Coping with regret

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    Little Buddha

    I seem to be in a place where I regret every decision I make. First, it takes me a long time to make a decision and then once I make it, I almost instantly regret it.

    I took time off from work = regret
    I broke up with my girlfriend = regret
    I suggested that my girlfriend and I don’t have any contact = regret

    These are just some major examples, but it’s happening even with minor things like ordering things from a menu and regretting my choice, the moment I make it.

    How come I can’t be happy with the decisions I make? Why do I feel so much shame and anxiety over the things that I feel are right for me at the time?


    You have to banish the “What If?” thoughts and replace them “with Because I Said So, That’s Why”.

    You are a sovereign, divine being in a Universe filled with Good Choices. We only live in The Moment, and your decisions were the best ones at the time. Believe it!

    So, when eating out, after you order the ham and cheese and are regretful that you didn’t order then Cobb Salad, say, “The ham and cheese, too, is perfect. I’m eating it with joy because I said so, that’s why.”

    See everything as one big Perfection. Including your decisions.

    Things turn out one way or another.

    All is well.


    That’s very good advice.


    Hello Little Buddha,

    I believe your current issue stems from lack of trust. It seems like you don’t, or at least find it hard, trusting yourself. I deal with the same issue at times but in a different light(more self doubt than regret) which is the same thing in general but the main point is that we’re human; we’re all works in progress. It’s important for us to find the root what we’re feeling, in this case, regret. Why do you feel regret when you take off work? Ask why to every answer until you come to the root of the emotion you’re experiencing and start correcting it from there.

    You ask “How come I can’t be happy with the decisions I make?” I say, you CAN be happy but you choose not to. You choose to be the victim with self pity over being the student to life while embracing all that comes with love. No one is perfect, this happens to us all at some point of our lives. Understand that there is a positive in every negative, a lesson in every mistake, it’s one of the universal laws and it’s just ‘the way’ as some would say. One thing that I’d recommend you to do is a simple change in your perspective. The degree of our happiness should not be made up from our circumstances in the world, but in the lens in which we see which forms our reality. All you need to do is start looking for the positive in every situation. It might be hard when you first look, but the more you do it, the more naturally it will become. The same way you walk without even noticing sometimes, we all had to LEARN how to walk. You can do it, I believe in you!

    Best of luck to you brother, Namaste.

    Little Buddha

    It’s hard to see the positive knowing that I have caused so many people so much stress and suffering. Doubly, it makes me question my ability to be in a long term relationship (this being the second longest I’ve been in after my first failed marriage).

    I feel like I’m reaching the foundation of my life and asking some basic fundamental questions, who am I? What am I? Where do I go from here? What do I really want from life? What kind of life am I suited for?

    So many questions whirl in my mind, it’s hard to make it stop and settle.

    The positive that I do see is that my ex will be happier in the long term without me – she deserves someone in her life right now who is more stable minded and sure of his place in this universe. I am not. And that does not make for a good partner.

    Thank you for all of your support. I will try to see more positive.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 10 months ago by Little Buddha.

    I’m not exactly sure what you did to “so many people” but I believe you’re over thinking it. I recommend the best thing for you to do is contact all of the people that you’ve ‘done wrong’ and communicate with each and every one of them. It is so under rated for us to simply talk it out with others nowadays and it’s a big shame. Talk to them and tell them how you feel about the situation. Ask any questions that you need answers to, so you can finally rest your mind. If you keep it in your head you will continue to over think which is not going to help. Nevertheless, if it’s necessary just ask for a genuine apology and mean it! Whether they do or don’t is up to them, but that is all you can do. Forgive yourself for the mistake and move on with your life.

    You say you have many questions that whirl in your mind, write them down! Look up on Google “GTD”. It is a program to be more productive and way more organized with your thoughts/plans. It’s a really good destressor because when you jot down the things you want to do, it clears your mind and the extra energy can be used to focus on things you really want to do(goals, ambitions, development, etc).

    It’s great that you’re humble enough to accept how some other guy might just be better for your ex. You can’t force anything in this world, as it will make things go sour. Let her go on her own path but more importantly, give yourself permission to continue living your life too. I’ve been single for over 5 years and I’m extremely happy with the person I’ve become because of the continuous positive recurrence in my daily life. I surround myself with positive music, positive activities that I LOVE doing, and only feed positive text into my brain. TURN OFF the television. I wish you can do the same, even if it’s temporary, so you can see the amazing things that happen when you fill your life with positive energy.


    Little Buddha,

    I’m sorry for your suffering, and can understand the big impact we seem to have sometimes. Look at all the harm you did to your girlfriend because of your unskillful behaviors… and golly, who are you, anyway? What’s your place in the universe? Don’t despair, dear friend, because it all knits together along the way. Said differently, these questions you’re asking drive bodhicitta, or the emotional yearning for freedom from our suffering, and helps produce the fertility we need to actually grow. Its true that your actions have consequences, and being ignorant of your balance with nature leaves you vulnerable to a whole mess of painful feelings. Other than that, its no big deal. A few things came to heart as I read your words.

    The nut of your issue may be that you think the answer, the joy, is somewhere “out there”. As though some “right way of being” or “right menu order” or “right Little Buddha” would give you satisfaction, peace. But, not having had much success with that, there’s no confidence that any given path you choose will make you happy. So, order a dinner and “shit, will that make me happy.” Nope, it didn’t, and next time you order, even less hope that you’re choosing correctly.

    To bounce out of this, stop trying to grab outward for happiness, learn to grow it internally. Learn to sit, make a little tender space, and let your light grow. This is done through self nurturing, or being kind to ourselves. Relaxing, accepting where we are in time and space, and just breathing. Consider “Bhante Gunaratana guided metta meditation” on YouTube for a great exercise, if interested. Once a day for a few weeks should see a grand improvement, if listening close.

    Next, consider that self acceptance is really helpful as we try to learn how to dance. You’re a fuckup, no doubt about it, but that’s just fine, normal. Buddha noticed how we have a fundamental ignorance on how to find balance, skillfulness, and it can be tricky. Lots of emotions, desires, needs, views… mash together and we have no clue what to do, act selfishly, growly, whatever. Normal, usual, unavoidable… skinned knees of otherwise loving beings.

    Consider, if you didn’t love a lot, it wouldn’t be scary, wouldn’t matter. You have heart, with clouds of fear/judgment, so its painful. Learn to let go of the skinned knees, and walking, deciding, becomes less scary. Again, just sitting, breathing, accepting does most of the work, its not really in the menu choices. Inky was spot on, the sandwich or salad shouldn’t be that scary. Its food. You’re an eternal being, on a journey in a body that will eat thousands of times. Yes, be mindful as you eat, but each meal is small, empty of meaning, nothing to fear. Too much grease, upset stomach, too much noise, upset mind. Its not like Little Buddha is stained, bad, or harmful. Just learning to walk, run, play. Wanting to be kind, falling into habits. Another normal human being.

    Finally, we don’t cause other peoples emotions or thoughts. As unskillful as you were, what she did with your actions is her business, her karma. Its from kindness that we wish to feel guilt for their suffering, but for instance, she could have just seen an unskillful friend floundering, and never made it about her. Kids do this often “mom, dad, if you don’t give me cookies, I won’t love you” and we smile and ask her to finish her veggies. Its not about us, she just wants a cookie, lashing, grasping. Forgive, move on. Consider a healing mantra: “I forgive myself for any decisions, responses, or reactions that lead to suffering. I forgive her for any decisions, responses, or reactions that lead to suffering. May we learn the lessons and be free from affliction.”

    Namaste, friend, may you find the tender humility needed to grow wisdom. Then, peace.

    With warmth,

    Little Buddha

    Thank you Matt for being so direct and honest.

    I will forgive myself and not waste any more energy on this chastising of myself, which I recognize impedes my growth and learning towards becoming a more humble and wise person.

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