- There are two kinds of regret: closed regret and open regret.
closed regret – there is nothing more that you can do.
open regret – there is still something you can do.Which is worse? It depends.
With open regret, you might still be able to fix it, but you have to keep thinking about it. With closed regret, it sucks that you cannot change anything, but at least you know that it is over and you do not have to think about it anymore.
- When you feel closed regret, a lot of times instead of accepting and letting go, your brain tries to do all sorts of mental tricks to try to make you feel better. What you did wasn’t actually that bad. You did not actually make a mistake. You did not actually want something anyway. This rationalization is dangerous because (1) You are still thinking about the problem (needlessly), and (2) Every time something suggests that your rationalization was wrong after all, your carefully constructed arguments crumble again and you fall apart. If you “get over” doing something wrong by convincing you did not do anything wrong, if this rationalization is proven to be an illusion you have to rationalize it all over again. This starts a cycle.
- Denying that you wanted something that you did actually want leads to you feeling incredibly disempowered. First of all, you’re belittling yourself by denying what your needs are, denying what you actually wanted. Secondly, by denying what you need and want, this lowers your chance of getting what you want in the future.
- Some things are not fixable. The world is a cruel, unfair place. People are messed up and messed up things happen. Sometimes it happens to you. Sometimes you caused it. You are not alone. You are not the first to completely mess up and hurt somebody, and you are not the worst. If you do not believe me, check out Reddit or Quora. All you can do is to work on being a better person and not do it again. You may not be able to pay it back, but you can pay it forward. It is amazing how the small things you do can make someone’s year. Try to be kind. Case closed.
- Other things are fixable. Just because you messed up this time, does not mean you won’t get more chances. And you had a reason for doing what you did anyway and couldn’t have done anything differently at that particular moment. What you did before does not set your character. You can always do something differently in the future.Your life consists of tiny decisions that add up, and there is a huge dimension of randomness in every decision. At every moment you process sensory information, make sense of it, decide what to pay attention to, recall information from memory, and apply some sort of logic to everything. You make mistakes while doing this. You are not omniscient. If you never made thinking errors, you would be God.The universe is deterministic, yes, but it is not predictable.
- The world is sad. It’s also funny sometimes. There is a reason people with a sense of humor live longer. People can physically only feel so many things at once, and so humor can replace the sadness. A lot of things that people worry about are not that grave and have have a funny spin to them.