Skip to content

How To Stop Regretting The Past : 22 Easy Tips

    stop regretting the past

    As humans, we sometimes make bad decisions in life.

    We make mistakes because we don’t know any better.

    Obviously, we are not perfect beings and it is only natural for us to falter from time to time.

    However, the weight of your bad decisions can haunt you for a long time.

    Especially if it relates to an important aspect of your life such as finances, career, health, or relationships.

    This is why so many people regret their pasts and the blunders they have done. They remain stuck in their lives and can’t seem to move forward.

    Not only does this make their everyday experience painful, but it also prevents them from building a better future.

    woman looking in the distance

    If you find yourself in the same boat, you need to make some important changes.

    You need to stop regretting the past and move on.

    Only then can you begin to live your life the way it was meant to be lived.

    To that end, let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to stop regret in its path.

    1) Know That The Past Is Not Real

    This is perhaps the most logical argument you can make with yourself.

    We all know that the past doesn’t actually exist.

    What happens in the past, stays in the past.

    Sure, you may be tormented by the memories and it might feel like things happened only yesterday.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that the past is gone.

    So, ask yourself, does it make sense to keep yourself stuck in something that doesn’t even exist? Does it make sense to be stuck in memories?

    Of course, not!

    So, the first thing you need to do is reprogram the mind to realize this obvious fact, so that you can start making changes from a place of understanding and awareness.

    To make it easier on yourself, you could start intervening consciously whenever a thought from the past starts taking over your mind.

    You could say things like “I should let bygones be bygones,” “What’s done is done, I can’t change it. It would be better if I look forward instead of looking back,” or “It’s useless to think about something I can’t change.”

    2) Ask Yourself What You Can Learn From It

    girl regretting and crying

    Just because the past is gone doesn’t mean that you can’t learn anything from it.

    In fact, if there is one thing you should carry from the past is its teachings.

    Whatever blunder you did, it was because you were not wise enough.

    You just didn’t anticipate that your actions would lead to a negative situation.

    However, now that the mistake is done and you have faced the consequences, it’s better to learn from the whole experience.

    You can sit down in silence and think about the whole incident in your mind in a non-judgmental manner.

    Understand why you were wrong and how you should have handled the matter. Think about what life lessons you can learn.

    Once you have done this analysis in your mind, try to implement it into your behavior.

    Only then can you ensure that you won’t repeat the same mistakes in the future. It will also help you let go of the past because you will know that it has served its purpose.

    3) Make A Regret Bonfire


    Rituals have played an important role in human civilization since ancient times.

    There are tons of rituals for virtually everything.

    Even your morning routine can be considered a ritual.

    So, how does this help you stop regretting your past?

    Well, sometimes, the mind can get stuck in a loop and it just can’t figure out how to break that loop.

    This is where a ritual comes in.

    It serves as an unusual event or occurrence that can mark the end of something or the beginning of something else entirely.

    In other words, it acts as an intervention that allows you to put an official end to something that has been bothering you.

    To that end, you can make a regret bonfire.

    This involves writing out everything that you regret along with the emotions attached to those regrets. Then, read the list out loud and say goodbye in your mind to each one of your regrets.

    Next, get a bowl and a matchstick.

    Light up the match, burn the paper, and put it in the bowl. Watch as all your remorse and pain burns to ash right in front of your eyes.

    Feel a sense of relief spreading throughout your body knowing that it is finally over.

    there are no regrets in life just lessons

    4) Ask Different Questions

    When you keep thinking about the past and the mistakes that you made, it is natural to ask questions like, “What if I had done this?” “What if I had stopped myself from doing that?”

    The mind keeps going over these questions because it wants to change the past somehow.

    Of course, we all know that’s not possible (unless you have a time machine!)

    So, what you can do in the present is start asking different questions.

    Ask yourself, “What if I don’t let go of my regret? How will my life be affected?” “What if I let go of the past and look forward to the future? Is that a better option for my happiness?”

    When you change the mental script, you slowly start changing your subconscious patterns.

    It might be a slow process, but it leads to concrete changes in your life.

    It changes your perception, attitude, and motivation, and makes way for healing.

    5) Doing Things Differently Might Not Have Guaranteed Success

    If the past keeps tormenting you, this is one of the first things your logical mind needs to understand.

    When you keep thinking of the different decisions you could have made in the past, you need to remind yourself that doing things differently might not have guaranteed success!

    For example, if you invested your money in your friend’s business and that led to losses, you might keep wondering what would have happened if you had invested your money in gold, land, or some other asset.

    This seems logical to the mind and so you might keep regretting your decision over and over again.

    But, ask yourself, what guarantee do you have that investing in some other asset would have led to success?

    Maybe the markets would have tanked or some other issues would have arisen.

    At the end of the day, we never know how our decisions will play out.

    And it is especially useless to speculate about decisions you could have made in the past. There could be a million different things you could have done.

    But does that matter now?

    What’s done is done. Period.

    6) Forgive Yourself

    man feeling guilty

    When you are in a state of regret, it is only natural to blame yourself for everything wrong that happened in your past.

    • You might blame yourself for your lack of knowledge or wisdom.
    • You might blame yourself for not being serious enough or not taking timely decisions.

    Whatever it might be, you will be way too hard on yourself than you need to be.

    But as stated above, we never quite know how our decisions will play out.

    Despite our best efforts, sometimes, unintended consequences do happen.

    But it’s not as if you wanted bad things to happen.

    Obviously, you didn’t bring pain and suffering to yourself knowingly!

    So, what’s the point of blaming yourself when you might have been trying to do something for the good?

    If you take this perspective, you will realize that it is better to forgive yourself and move on. ( check our complete guide about self forgiveness HERE) Just be kind and compassionate to yourself.

    Treat yourself the way you would treat your friend. Be understanding in your approach and realize that you are a student of life and are bound to make mistakes.

    7) Ask For Forgiveness From Others

    man and woman forgiving

    Sometimes, your regrets might involve other people.

    For example, you might have said something harsh to one of your loved ones or acted rudely toward someone at a coffee shop.

    The point is, you might do things from time to time that can hurt other people or cause them harm in some way or another (even if you might not intend to).

    In cases like these, it is better to just ask for forgiveness.

    Instead of beating yourself up, just go talk to them. Tell them what was going on in your mind when you said or did those terrible things. Tell them that you are genuinely sorry and want to make up for what you have done.

    If possible, and if the other person is willing, you can make amends. You can put in the effort to make the relationship better.

    For example, if you regret not visiting your family during the holidays, you could apologize and commit to calling them or visiting them from time to time.

    Doing so will obviously make you feel more peaceful and there won’t be anything left to regret!

    8) Try Something New To Distract Yourself

    girl having fun with water

    Sometimes, all you need is a good distraction to take your mind off of something and break the cycle of overthinking.

    In a world that is full of distractions, this shouldn’t be too hard.

    When you sense yourself venturing into the past again, do something that you really enjoy and can spend hours doing it.

    For example, you could start reading a book, listen to music, go outside for a walk, or call a friend!

    Sure, this might pull you away from doing more productive tasks in the present, but when you keep regretting the past, you are wasting your time anyway!

    And it is always better to do something you love than to waste time feeling negative emotions.

    Also, when you consciously intervene every time your brain starts regretting the past, you are essentially retraining your subconscious mind.

    Over time, your mind learns that you are not supposed to think about the past. Eventually, you will not even need to use distractions!

    9) Realize That You Are Wasting Your Time

    Do you know how much time we waste regretting the past or worrying about the future?

    I think we can all tell by experience that it’s quite significant.

    • Imagine what you could do and achieve if all that time was put to good use.
    • Imagine all the torment you could have saved yourself from if you could just control your mind a little.

    So, start with the realization that every time you regret your past, you are losing vital time in the present.

    You are losing a small portion of your life that you will never get back again.

    Remember, time is the most valuable resource you have.

    And if you do not become conscious of this fact, it will only become one more thing you’ll regret in the future.

    So, leave everything aside and focus on the task at hand. Learn to live in the present.

    One of the best ways to instill this habit is to practice meditation and mindfulness. These are spiritual practices that slowly train your mind to anchor your attention in the present moment.

    And the best part is that they do not take up a lot of your time. Just 20 minutes of meditation every day and a few minutes of mindfulness at a time are enough to bring in some significant changes.

    don't waste time with regrets. Life is too short.

    10) Talk To Other People With Similar Regrets

    You are not the only person who regrets your past.

    There are millions of others who are in the same boat.

    So, there is a chance that you will find someone in your friend circle or your family who has gone through the same experience or situation as you (especially if it relates to the common aspects of life like relationships, health, finance, or career).

    men talking to each other

    Whenever you realize that you are spending quite a lot of time thinking about past decisions, reach out to some of your loved ones.

    Talk to them and share how you feel.

    In doing so, you might come across people who have already worked through situations like yours.

    Maybe you can find stories that will inspire you to rise above your predicament and start afresh.

    Our regrets can keep us in a bubble.

    They might limit our perception and vision.

    We might fail to realize that there are actual practical solutions to our problems.

    So, talking to other people becomes important as they can expand our views and help us realize that we don’t have to be in our situation forever.

    11) Give Yourself Time To Heal

    As with most things in life, healing requires time and effort. It is something that you just can’t force or be hasty with.

    After all, healing happens from the inside.

    Your heart and mind have to become free of what’s troubling you.

    And that can take its own sweet time, especially if it relates to something major in the past.

    So, keep in mind that you need to be patient throughout the process.

    Don’t blame yourself for not moving fast enough.

    Making slow progress is absolutely okay! In the meantime, just focus on things that will help you feel relaxed and nourished. Make sure to take care of your soul as much as you take care of your body.

    And try to stop yourself from ruminating on your past actions or words.

    This might be difficult in the beginning, but you have to slowly learn how to move past them. In time, your negative thoughts and emotions will start subsiding. Just hang on and have faith.

    Sure you wish you did some things differently. But there is no sense in becoming burdened with regret over things you have no power to change.

    12) Create A New Set of Goals

    Think about it.

    What is the best thing you can do to counteract the past? Setting your eyes on the future, right?

    And what’s the best way to motivate yourself for the future?

    It’s by setting a new set of goals.

    Look, we humans are objective-oriented.

    We need to have our gaze set on something and we love the thrill of a meaningful pursuit.

    So, why not give yourself these things?

    You could take a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the things you are passionate about. You could write about things that you have always wanted to achieve in life but never quite got around to pursuing them.

    Once you are done, select two or three items on the list and make them your new objectives. Figure out a roadmap you would have to follow to achieve them. And be consistent and dedicate each day to your new goals. Act as if you are on a mission.

    That way, you won’t have any time or energy to regret the past.

    I made decisions thta i regret and I took them as learning experiences. I'm human, not perfect like anybody else.

    13) Realize The Negative Impacts of Regret

    We often don’t realize the impacts of our negative thoughts and emotions.

    We get so lost in them that we become completely unaware of the damage they do to us.

    This is why millions of people in the world suffer from physical and mental ailments that could have actually been prevented if they had worked on managing their negative thoughts and emotions.

    Don’t let your own mind become your enemy.

    Realize that your feelings of regret can cause all sorts of damage to your mental and emotional health. Regret can give rise to stress, anxiety, and even depression.

    This could make life much harder to live. Also, stress and anxiety affect our physical health.

    They can lead to heart problems, gut problems, headaches, diabetes, lack of energy, and so on.

    So, it only makes sense to avoid feeling regret.

    To motivate yourself, you could prepare a list of all the negative impacts of this emotion.

    Once you realize how long this list is, you would do anything to stay away from it!

    14) Stand Firm Against Regretful Thoughts

    At the end of the day, your thoughts of regret are just thoughts.

    And you can certainly change them.

    But you need to tap into your inner power to do so.

    And you have to be truly willing to get rid of them once and for all.

    If you feel weak on the inside, this is not going to work.

    So, when you are ready, start fighting against your regretful thoughts. Come up with powerful comebacks whenever your mind reminds you of your past actions and decisions.

    For example, you can say things like, “That was a long time ago. There is no use thinking about it now,” “I have come a long way since. I am a different person now,” or “I might have made mistakes in the past but they made me much wiser.”

    15) Make A List of Your Achievements

    Feelings of regret can make you feel like you are worthless.

    The more you concentrate on your bad actions and decisions, the more your confidence will degrade.

    Obviously, it can impact your goals and dreams.

    So, to counter all of this, you could make a list of all your achievements.

    Literally, sit down with a pen and a piece of paper. Then, start listing out all the things that you achieved in the past. It doesn’t matter whether it was small or big, just mention it on the paper. Slowly, you’ll come up with a long list.

    This exercise will help you realize that your past is not only filled with blunders. It is also filled with success.

    The only reason why you might feel bad about yourself is that your mind likes to focus on the negatives.

    So, using this exercise, you are essentially shining a light on the positives and reminding your mind that you are a capable person.

    when one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

    16) Reinvent Yourself If Need Be

    Some regrets are more serious than others and they might need a more drastic change in yourself and your life to move on.

    For example, if you stayed in an abusive relationship for years before finally ending it, you might regret wasting so much time with the wrong person. You might question your own self and wonder how you could have been so blind that you tolerated abuse all those years.

    This type of regret can be dealt with by taking serious steps.

    For instance, you could reinvent yourself into a much better version of yourself so that you will never succumb to an abuser ever again.

    You could choose to prioritize yourself and your dreams.

    And more importantly, you could learn to be courageous enough to walk away from people as soon as you see the usual red flags.

    You could also change your looks, redefine your values, set new goals, build positive habits, declutter, change your diet, switch up your social circle, change your daily routine, and so on.

    Reinventing yourself is obviously a huge task and it will take its own time. So, focus on incremental changes in the present.

    Take it as a marathon and not a sprint.

    17) Take A Break From Everything For A While

    woman taking a break

    Sometimes, you just need a break from everything and everyone.

    Usually, people take such breaks when they burn out after an intense period of activity.

    However, you could also take breaks when the feelings of regret become a permanent tourist in your life.

    When you disconnect from everything, it gives your mind a chance to start from scratch.

    Instead of having to deal with the pressures of work, life, and regretful thoughts all at once, you can finally get time to process your thoughts and emotions for good.

    During this time, focus on healing your mental and emotional selves.

    Nourish your soul and your body.

    Engage in self-care practices and develop the belief that you deserve to be loved and taken care of no matter how your past was.

    During this break, take ample naps, focus on skincare, read books, meet new people, take up new hobbies, play video games, watch tv shows, go on a vacation, or do nothing at times!

    18) Stay Physically Active

    Most people know that exercise is great at making you feel better.

    After a quick session of workout, you can’t help but feel better about yourself and your health. Somehow, you just feel more confident.

    As such, it is one of the go-to things you need to do to deal with feelings of regret.

    So, craft an exercise routine for yourself. Pick a fixed time every day to work out. Preferably, it should be in the morning before you start your day.

    That will give you a boost of motivation that will carry you throughout the day.

    And the best part is, you don’t need to engage in intense physical exercise to reap the benefits. Even some simple yoga postures will help you feel much better, centered, balanced, and at peace.

    If yoga is not your thing, you could turn to jogging, cycling, swimming, or any other physical movement you prefer.

    forget regret or life is yours to miss.

    19) Put Things In Perspective

    One of the reasons why your mistakes might hit you so hard is that you are worried about what others will think or say.

    After all, a person’s bad actions and decisions can affect other people’s opinions of them.

    However, you need to put things in perspective.

    You need to realize that there are billions of people on the planet and except for a handful of people, nobody cares what you do or don’t do.

    And that handful of people doesn’t think of you as much as you think they do. They have their own lives to live, you know!

    20) Give Yourself A Second Chance

    One of the best ways to end the cycle of regret is to give yourself a second chance.

    For example, if you regret not contributing to a worthwhile cause in the past, you can join a similar campaign and make a meaningful contribution.

    If you regret not doing the right things in your past romantic relationship, make sure you make your current one perfect and do all the right things.

    Look, it’s not possible to go back and change things.

    However, you can change how you act in the present.

    And knowing that you are a better person and taking active measures to do good can definitely help you get over the regrets of the past.

    don't regret anything that you've gone through, because it makes who you are.

    21) Help Others By Stopping Them From Making Your Mistakes

    As mentioned above, your bad actions or decisions in the past can teach you a lot of valuable lessons.

    They can help you become a wiser and much better version of yourself.

    If you have truly learned your lessons, you can actually help other people by stopping them from making the same mistakes.

    For example, if you invested your money poorly, you can advise your loved ones to not make the same mistake. You can tell them how you regret your past decision and how it bothers you to this day.

    Hearing this, if your loved ones can save their money from going down the drain, that will definitely make you feel better.

    In hindsight, you might realize that your regret can actually be put to good use.

    It can help you make positive changes in other people’s lives.

    If you go by this line of thought, your regrets will stop haunting you.

    if only. those must be the two saddest words in the world.

    22) Think About Whether It Will Matter In The Long Run

    I think it is safe to say that most of our current problems won’t even matter to us in the long run.

    Think about all the small or big problems that you were troubled by five years ago.

    Do you still think about them today?

    Probably not!

    Similarly, the regret that you feel today won’t matter to you five years down the road. It will become a part of your history.

    So, why bother yourself over something that will lose its meaning eventually?

    Why torment yourself over something that is temporary?

    Learn to let go and focus on things that will still be meaningful to you in the long run. Think about your dreams, goals, relationships, health, career, and finances.

    These are the things that will always matter. And these are the things that should receive all your time and energy.

    The one thing I learned is to just give everything a shot. You don't want to live in regret.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *