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Regrets—we all have them

By Ox Drover

“The Road Not Taken” is always out there beckoning to us. I should, I could … Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do that? Regrets!

Having been involved with a psychopath, and reeling from the devastation in the wake of the relationship, leads us to ask ourselves what might have happened if we had made other choices.

I question myself—if I had chosen differently, would the relationship have been a success? If I had dated John or Frank instead of the psychopath, would I now be happily married in a solid relationship? If I had just done things differently, like I started to, would it have been better? If I had just gotten out of the relationship sooner, or later, would I now be better off?

With our regrets, we beat ourselves up for being so stupid to put up with the abuse. We saw the red flags of suspicion early on, felt the sting and pain of his words, his disrespect, yet, now we regret not paying attention to ourselves back then. How much better our lives would have been if we had only listened to our own intuition, to the things we really knew, really saw, but brushed aside, thought we could fix.

We searched for the words, the perfect words, to explain to him how he was hurting us. Why couldn’t we find those perfect words, the ones we were so sure would make him treat us better?

Regret is normal

Regret in the past choices we have made in life: Go to work and get married, or go to college and get an education. Have children, or wait. According to those who study regrets, having regrets as we mature is a normal, natural and a universal human emotion. Neal Roese, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Illinois says, “Regret is a very complicated emotion that involves all these things (pain and fear) coming together—it’s raw feeling plus all the complicated imaginings of future possibility.”

Another psychology professor, Carsten Wrosch, Ph. D., at Concordia University in Montreal, has linked regrets to many physical and social problems, which include sleeping problems, headaches, migraines, panic disorder and even skin conditions.

Henry David Thoreau said, “To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

Letting go

If we continually dwell on our past mistakes and missed opportunities, this consumes our ability to live and enjoy the present. Letting go of regrets though, is not a one-time event; it is a process of disentangling ourselves from them.

One of the ways suggested to start to let go of our regrets over past decisions is to consider it final. I find that when I have a decision to make, once I finally decide that decision is final, anxiety about making that decision seems to go away. Looking at that decision later, whether it turned out to be good or bad, I am more able to accept it.

People who study regrets and decision making also note that if we can “fix” a past mistake or correct it, our regrets tend to hang on longer and be stronger, but if we accept the fact that we made a bad decision that can’t be fixed, we tend to let go of it more easily.

Having regrets for past decisions, and especially regrets related to our relationship with the psychopath(s) in our lives, is normal and natural. As long as we hang on to those regrets and try to second guess ourselves, though, it impedes our healing and moving on.

Letting go of those regrets, the self-recrimination for our part in the relationship, for not finding the perfect solution, for not leaving sooner, or any of a thousand other choices we made, will be an ongoing process. But it will lead us, if we let it, to using those choices to make a better life for ourselves now and in the future.



382 Comments on "Regrets—we all have them"

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  1. Sarasims says:

    justabouthealed – sounds like you have some experience in this area! Unfortunately – right??!!! I hate it for both of us – but glad we are here sharing. I especially like your “f**king entitled” part bc that is EXACTLY what he thinks he is….entitled to me or anyone else he pleases! I guess that applies to all of them!!! Isn’t there something horrible we can do to them to make them feel our pain? LOL!



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  2. luv716 says:

    Rosa, I know that he is wit someone else, Im for sure thats why he’s not coming around believe me I wanna move on more than anything when I take two steps forward, it seems like he senses that I may be doing ok without him then he play the love game. I know that if he ever came back it wouldnt be right too much has been done I look at this man now with so disgust because I know I didn’t deserve what he done too me I woulda respect him more if he would just left in the beginning, but he stayed around an use me tell it was nothing left. Im hurting!!!!!!



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  3. Rosa says:

    Luv716:

    It is OK that you are hurting!!
    I really believe that allowing yourself to feel all of these emotions, like pain, anger, grief, sadness, etc. is the only way you will be able to put this horrible experience behind you.

    You cannot get past the hurt unless you go through the hurt.
    In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is try to suppress your emotions, and pretend they are not there.
    Because, at some point, they will just pop up anyway.

    And, I know the S has a way of coming back just when you are about to move on and forget about him. I think we have all experienced that.
    It makes it so hard. I know.

    I would just tell you to keep reading here at LF.
    Have you read Kathleen Hawk’s articles titled, “After the Sociopath: How do we Heal?
    It’s a 14 part series. If I were you, I would definitely read parts 1-5. I am always comforted whenever I read her articles. She has a way of making you feel like you are OK, or everything is going to be OK, and that you are on the right path.
    On the left side of this page, under “Categories”, click on “Katheleen Hawk”, and her articles will come up.



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