3 Idiots, a Bollywood blockbuster, is about three best friends studying in an engineering college. One of them, Farhan, has always dreamed of becoming a wildlife photographer. Despite being intimidated by his father, he eventually musters up the courage to quit engineering and pursue his dream.

Farhan’s story shows us that we often need to make difficult decisions to be happy. If we don’t, we may end up regretting our choices for the rest of our lives. Read on to see how regret can cause harm and to learn about some powerful ways of overcoming regret.

The Psychology Of Regret


Regret is a negative emotional or cognitive mental state where we look back at a situation or decision and wish we could have done things differently. There’s often a sense of loss, sorrow and hopelessness. 

Two thoughts commonly accompany the feeling of regret:

  • I did something I shouldn’t have–and now I won’t be able to undo it 

  • I did something I shouldn’t have–and now I’m going to lose something important

As you can see, regret is often accompanied by self-blame and negative self-talk. Looking back regretfully can adversely affect your happiness in the present moment. Remember, sometimes losing something can lead to newer, better opportunities. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. So let go of your regrets and give yourself another chance. Read on to find out how you can stop feeling regretful. 

How To Overcome Regret

When the feeling of regret becomes a repetitive pattern, we tend to dwell on the past and obsess over the future. Overcoming regret involves addressing your feelings and moving forward. 

Here are a few simple tips that will help you do that:

  1. Identify The Source Of Regret

If you want to know how to deal with regret, start by identifying the source of your regret. List everything that’s upsetting or annoying you—it could be your job, your family or your friends. This will help you figure out the root cause of your regret and you will be one step closer to resolving it.

  1. Acknowledge And Accept Weaknesses

Remember, nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes. Think of your mistakes as learning opportunities. Focus on things that you have learned and what you would do differently in the future. Most of all, be easy on yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and learn by trial and error.

  1. Focus On Things You Can Control

There will be times when you do your best, yet everything goes wrong. Remind yourself that certain things are beyond your control. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic took everybody by surprise, but several people and businesses managed to land on their feet. They worked around the challenge and were able to successfully sustain themselves.

  1. Give Yourself The Benefit Of Doubt

Consider the circumstances under which you made certain decisions that you regret. You likely had limited knowledge at the time. For example, perhaps you wanted to become a lawyer, but instead, you had to look after your family business. Instead of feeling regretful, remember why you made that choice. Analyze whether you have the time and resources to pursue that law degree and chase your dreams now. It’s never too late!

  1. Embrace Impermanence

Nothing in life is permanent. Whether it’s your job or relationships, change is imminent. You need to learn how to step outside your comfort zone and embrace change. Not only does this prepare you for uncertainties but it also helps you appreciate everything that you have at present. Live life like every day is your last day!

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Although the feeling of regret is painful, studies show that it can help us refocus, take corrective action and pursue new opportunities. Dwelling on the past is harmful, but analyzing and learning from it is not. 

Learning from your past helps you:

  • Avoid repeating past mistakes by incorporating your learnings into subsequent decisions and actions

  • Gain insight into negative behaviors and work harder towards repairing or maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships

  • Think twice before making a decision because you’ve already faced the consequences of a hasty choice in the past

Learning how to overcome regret is a superpower! Not only do you forgive yourself, but you also give yourself another chance to do better. You feel confident in your abilities. This improves your self-esteem.

Keep Going!

If you want to know how to deal with regret efficiently, you need to take risks and put yourself out there from time to time. Harappa Education’s Embracing Change course will prepare you for uncertainty and setbacks. The Failure Checklist concept in the course will help you draw valuable lessons from your failures. The First Responders framework will teach you how to build a support system to fall back on in case things go wrong. You’ll learn how to put your mistakes behind you and deal with challenges in a constructive way. Learn to embrace change and keep moving forward!

Explore topics such as Change Management, Change Management Process & Change Management Strategies from Harappa Diaries and learn to confidently embrace change in your life.

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