don’t be a slave to regret

don’t be a slave to regret
Photo by lucas clarysse / Unsplash

“Don’t let regret beat you down. Don’t be a slave to regret.


Let it teach you. Let it make you better. Let the fear of regret fuel you—to take action—today—now.

Take action now to become a person not filled with regret, but a person filled with knowledge and strength and power and life.”

— Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual

. . .

Regret, that gnawing feeling that accompanies the realization of missed opportunities or poor choices, has a way of haunting our minds and capturing our emotions. It is a powerful force that can consume our thoughts, paralyze our actions, and prevent us from moving forward in life. However, it is crucial to understand that dwelling on regret only perpetuates its grip on us, turning us into slaves to our past mistakes. To live a fulfilling and meaningful life, we must learn to break free from the chains of regret and embrace a mindset of growth, acceptance, and resilience.

Regret, at its core, stems from our innate desire for perfection and a longing to avoid any missteps along our journey. It is fueled by the belief that if we had chosen differently or acted in a different manner, our lives would be vastly better. While reflecting on past actions and learning from mistakes is a valuable part of personal growth, becoming enslaved by regret traps us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction and self-blame.

One of the fundamental reasons why we should not allow regret to control our lives is that it is an inherently unchangeable emotion. What has happened in the past is beyond our control. We cannot alter our past choices, nor can we rewrite the narrative of our lives. Therefore, wasting our energy and mental bandwidth on something that cannot be changed is futile. Instead, we should redirect our focus toward the present and the future, where we have the power to make positive changes and create new opportunities.

Rather than letting regret consume us, we must identify the lessons that lie within our mistakes. It is through making errors and facing the consequences that we learn and grow as individuals. Failure and regret can be powerful teachers, imparting wisdom and resilience that would have otherwise remained elusive. By reframing our perspective and embracing the lessons learned from our past, we can transform regret into a catalyst for personal development and self-improvement.

In addition, we can use regret as a driving force for positive change. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, we can take 100% responsibility for our current situation and channel our energy into creating a plan of action. By setting realistic and attainable goals, we create a roadmap for personal growth. It may involve acquiring new skills, developing healthier habits, enhancing our productivity and performance, or building stronger relationships. The key is to focus on incremental progress and celebrate small victories along the way.

In essence, regret can be a relentless captor, keeping us trapped in a cycle of self-blame, dissatisfaction, and missed opportunities. However, when we approach it with the right mindset, recognize its limitations, and embrace the lessons it offers, it can be a powerful tool for personal growth and self-improvement. Moreover, by taking extreme ownership and setting actionable goals and executing them, we can harness the transformative power of regret to elevate ourselves.

Katherine Mansfield once advised, “Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in.”

We all experience regret at some point in our lives. But we don't have to let it control us and rob us of our agency.

Let us commit to never being slaves to regret, but instead, be bold and use it as a stepping stone towards a brighter and more fulfilling future.


It’s impossible to hum while holding your nose (just try it!).