“Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.”
~Katherine Mansfield

A client was stuck in regret, full-blown regret. We were in the midst of a telephone coaching session, and she was in the midst of telling me, over and over, how awful it was that she had done what she had done, and that the outcomes had been so disastrous.

I’m a believer in taking the necessary time to release negative emotions, because if they’re left to fester, they can take over, invade, and contaminate. But I’m also a believer in moving on, and it seemed like my client was getting stuck. She was wallowing in her regret, rather than learning and moving forward.

There will always be things we regret. Decisions we make. Actions we take. Things we say. All of these may be, after the fact, things we wish we hadn’t done. But harping on that, over and over, doesn’t get us anywhere.

I gently interrupted my client. “I know you want to keep talking about this,” I said, “But how is it helping you?” She paused. “And if it’s not helping you,” I asked, “What might?” She paused again.

“I guess you would suggest that I look for what I’ve learned from this,” she finally answered.

“Well, what have you learned from it?” I asked.

With that, and a few moments of quiet reflection, she was off and running with a long list of what she’d learned, how she might have handled the situation instead, why she probably reacted as she did, and what she needed to do now. She was moving forward.

Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and time, and emotion.

What do you do to let go of regret?
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