I think you’ve seen this lunch before:


And oldie but goodie, what can I say?


Hummus, broc slaw, and tomato wrap:


And parsnip fries with ketchup:


Regrets – Do You Have Them?


I talk a lot about letting go of guilt and moving past small hiccups, but regret is a totally different animal. 


To me, regret is about major life events or important relationships.  Not “I regret eating four cookies last night,” but more “I regret dumping my boyfriend for another man.”  Regret is over singular instances or long behavior patterns that, if done differently, could’ve changed the entire course of your life.


I got this e-mail from a reader:


Marieke wrote, “I know you always talk about "guilt" and how not to feel guilty about eating and exercise and how not to let negative energy bring you down. I am now wondering, do you have any ideas that might help people to get over "regret?” 


Short explanation: It has only been for a while that I found my personal "healthy tipping point" (recovering from a broken ankle and losing my mum to cancer recently). I lost 8 kilos (about 17.5 pounds) so far.  I have quite a long way to my goal, but I can feel my mind set shifting, which I feel is a good thing. It is a long, slow process, but I am refusing to give up. 


Anyway, I still feel I regret doing certain things in my life and NOT doing certain things earlier, if you know what I mean. For example, I regret running away and getting married without my family there (I wish I waited a bit longer saving money and thinking about it so I could have had them there). On another hand, I regret that I treated myself this way for a long time, always dieting, always an extreme all or nothing approach, which led me nowhere besides ending up overweight and unfit. I regret quitting college at 18 with no idea what I wanted to do, ending up without a great education and in an office job, which is fine but not what I really want.


I need to deal with the feeling of regret and I’m trying to stay positive.  It is hard though.  Do you or any of your readers have any advice?


This email really got my mind turning.  I took the dogs on a walk this morning and thought deeply about two things I regret and do not regret in my life:


  • I regret getting into a huge blow-out with my two former best friends in college.  I treated them poorly and was immature.  I only miss one girl’s friendship now, but I still wish it had gone down differently.


  • I do not regret spending $4,000 trying to get into Physical Therapy graduate school last spring and summer.  It was a lot of money to ‘waste’ because I’m clearly not going down that path now, but I couldn’t see the future and would’ve hated myself for not trying to pursue a dream.  I do really wish we had that money now, though!


I believe you can save yourself from the vicious cycle of guilt by identifying why you feel regretful, letting go of the regret, and making a conscious act to move forward.


If you regret eloping, you cannot go back in time and get re-married.  But you could have a sweet re-commitment ceremony on your anniversary, invite your closest family, and explain to them that you feel sad that you eloped and couldn’t share the experience with them the first time around. 


If you regret fighting with a friend, you can reach out and make amends (as I did with one of my former friends) or you can just forgive yourself and move forward (as I did with the other).  If you regret your career path, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE YOUR JOB.  Seriously.  It’s never too late to make a change.  Maybe that change will take years, but people do it all the time.  Or maybe you can find a hobby or volunteer position that fulfills you in another way.


Regret is normal.  We are forced between two options (or three or four or five!) options everyday, and sometimes we make the wrong choice.   But holding onto the feelings of regret is not good for us.  I see regret as something we must absolve and forget about, or we’ll waste away our lives


But it’s up to us to channel that regret into something positive, into a deeper understanding of who we are.   We must learn from our regrets, to figure out why we hate our poor choices.  Or else we’ll spend the rest of our days thinking “If Only…” and miss out on fabulous opportunities in the meantime.


What do you regret?  How did you absolve it?  Do you believe regret is a powerful motivator?  What advice can you give my lovely reader?



  • Heather (Heather's Dish) May 14, 2010, 2:12 pm

    i regret handling conflict so poorly in the past and not addressing the heart issues behind my disordered eating earlier. i feel like if i had done those things i wouldn’t have to go back and apologize to other people and myself for hurting them/me!

  • Freya @ Brit Chick Runs May 14, 2010, 2:14 pm

    I don’t regret anything – nothing at all. Not my horrible eating past, or the fact that I don’t talk to my dad. Cos I’ve learnt SO much from it all, it’s made me a stronger person. I’d never have discovered healthy eating if I hadn’t almost died!! Even the eating 4 cookies thing (if that had been me) – I wouldn’t regret it cos now you know that eatinng 4 cookies makes you feel like crap; so you’ve learnt from it 🙂
    I literally fully believe in no regrets at all 🙂

    • Amy May 14, 2010, 2:41 pm

      I totally agree with you. I believe regrets are only issues left unresolved. Once you resolve the issue that you feel is a regret I don’t feel like it should be one anymore. It is important to learn from our “mistakes” (things we would do differently) otherwise why regret them in the first place.

    • Emmanuelle May 14, 2010, 3:17 pm

      I hear you on that, I think absolutely the same way. Everything is not perfect in my life, but the choices I’ve made in the past have built the person I am now, and it’s still an ongoing process.
      I chose to work as an assistant years ago because I needed to work, and now I feel I have to change careers, because this job is not for me. I don’t regret the decision I made though because I have learned a great deal from it, and I guess I needed these years to develop as a person and gain the confidence I didn’t have.
      There’s no use having regrets, the past is the past and should be left where it is. Either you correct what you think you’ve done wrong and it’s gone, or you let go and move on and it’s gone 🙂

  • Janelle May 14, 2010, 2:16 pm

    I try, REALLY hard, not to “do” regret. Every situation, good or bad, has something you can learn from it and take to improve your life in the future. I try to treat “regretful” situations as a step towards a better me.

  • Jessica @ How Sweet May 14, 2010, 2:21 pm

    I think regret is a scary, scary thing. I never want to live my life with regrets. The only thing I truly regret is not continuing to write growing up when so many people were pushing me towards it. I feel I would have been better at it if I had continued.

  • Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin May 14, 2010, 2:23 pm

    I can totally relate to the reader who wrote that to you. I struggle with regret a lot in thinking about how I used to treat my body, and despite a lot of warning signs (my father has heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apneia, diabetes type II, high cholesterol… you name it) I just ignored them and proceeded to eat myself into an obese persons body. Now that I have turned my life around, I don’t understand how I could let myself go for SO long. That said, I try really hard to move forward and just be happy that I changed my life when I did and let it go on for longer. I have damaged my body though for being obese for so long, and I regret that I did that to myself. I don’t really know if there’s an answer for your reader other than trying to learn from your past experiences and use them to make better decisions in the now.

  • Whitney @ Lettuce Love May 14, 2010, 2:25 pm

    I don’t regret anything because I am happy right now, in this moment. My past has brought me to where I am today, which is at peace with myself and relationships, so I can’t possibly regret anything. I think it isn’t so much about feeling regret but just moving on from a situation. You can’t change the past or predict the future, you can only pay attention to making the most of the present moment.

  • Mary @ What's Cookin' with Mary May 14, 2010, 2:25 pm

    Regret is a part of life and w/o it how would we learn those valuable lessons…? Great post Caitlin.

  • Miranda @ Mirandasjeans May 14, 2010, 2:25 pm

    When I was 18 I was dating a guy name Brian. He one day asked me if there was anything I regretted. I told him very honestly yes. He asked what that was. I told him that I regretted hurtting Kevin (who I was dating, we needed a break and when Kevin thought we were getting back together I started dating Brian).

    It was then that I realized that I could change this regret. Shortly after Brian and I broke up, and Kevin and I started dating (we remained friendly – we worked together while I dated Brian).

    Kevin and I have been together now for 10+ years and coming up to our 3 year wedding anniversary.

  • Camille May 14, 2010, 2:25 pm

    I regret hurting my body for so many years, however, I know that everything that happened made me who I am today, so in that way, I have 0 regrets… as long as my body has forgiven me.

  • Kara @ Kara's Marathon May 14, 2010, 2:26 pm

    I have a ton of regrets (many boy-related, but professional ones as well), but I agree that it’s absolutely never too late to make a change!

    For example, I really regret not getting my Ph.D. right out of college, but I plan on going back in the next few years, even though it might not be the smartest financial choice. 50 years later I’m sure I’ll regret not getting my degree more than I’ll regret (or be disappointed by) my student loan debt! 🙂

    Also letting go is important too. I regret dating some of the idiots I met before I met my husband, but if I hadn’t been heartbroken by the “bad boy” I might not have appreciated the wonderful nice guy when I met him! Our mistakes make us who we are and shape our path, just as much as our good choices.

  • Rachel May 14, 2010, 2:26 pm

    A very timely post for me – I was just thinking about a lot of this stuff yesterday! I hate when people say their motto is “no regrets” or something, because I think regret can be healthy and a sign that we’re learning from our pasts, as long as we don’t get too ruled by it in the present. It’s okay to regret mistakes you’ve made, or wish you could’ve done something different!

  • Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 14, 2010, 2:27 pm

    I regret the way my exboyfriend and I are either on good terms or bad terms depending on the hour. I wish we had a more solid relationship, but when both parties doubt themselves, sometimes it can become very difficult. He’s leaving for Alaska tomorrow for a month where I won’t have any contact with him, so I’m trying to make amends TODAY.

  • Marisa (Loser for Life) May 14, 2010, 2:27 pm

    I don’t believe I have any regrets mainly because I chose to always move forward. Regrets, to me, mean living in the past. And we can never go back, so I don’t find it helpful to focus on any of it. Onward and upward!

    Great insightful question, Caitlin!

  • Yasmin May 14, 2010, 2:28 pm

    This post came at the time when I most needed it the most. I am being consumed with regret and guilt over something that just recently occurred a couple of weeks ago. I’m trying to learn and move on but it’s so hard to do.

  • Abby May 14, 2010, 2:30 pm

    One of my favorite song lyrics is by The Hush Sound that says “My heart beats way to fast to let regret sit in my lap”.

    I think it’s so easy to have regret. I mean, we’re not perfect so we’re bound to make mistakes–some of them HUGE!

    I don’t think regret is wrong, but it is wrong to dwell on it. When I find myself getting to that point, I try to put it in perspective. The most important thing is “what did I learn from this situation?” I think circumstances are brought into our life to teach us and help us grow. If we screw up, we can’t go back and change it, but we can “change” the future.

    Look at what lessons you’ve learned in the moments you now regret–like maybe appreciating your family and wanting to spend more time with them–and take future opportunities to apply those lessons. Like Caitlin suggested having a vow renewal ceremony.

    I don’t know if that helps, but I hope it does!!

  • Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday May 14, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Regrets? I’ve had a few… but then again, too few to mention. 😉

  • Erin May 14, 2010, 2:32 pm

    I think regret can be useful only if we use it to make positive changes or work to turn something we regret into a positive situation. Long-term regret usually means I haven’t forgiven myself for something and that’s never good. I do have things I have regretted but I try always to learn something and work hard to turn a negative into a positive.

  • e May 14, 2010, 2:33 pm

    You know, sometimes I wonder if I’m going to regret this portion of my life in the future. I’m in a bad situation with family, and I have three choices: Continue trying to resolve the relationships as I’ve been trying for the past 7 years; accept the relationships for what they have become; or change my life to make everyone else happy at my own expense. In the last six months, after a lot of talking with the people who support me, I’ve decided to basically stop trying to fix the situation and let it be, even if that means I can’t have the close relationship I want with my family. My decision was partially based on my own lack of results, and partially from realizing that history is repeating itself, and my predecessor’s many years of trying never got them anywhere, either.

  • Ilana May 14, 2010, 2:35 pm

    I am good at letting go of things from the past – no use beating myself up over something I should or should not have done. Wishing I could have asked my stepfather so many questions will not bring him back, but I can try to learn from what he gave me. This is always how I’ve tried to live.

  • Annie@stronghealthyfit May 14, 2010, 2:36 pm

    Great post, Caitlin. Regret is important to think about bc it can manifest in unhealthy habits. I regret being insecure and lacking confidence when I began college but I’m happy with how I am today 🙂

  • Sarah for Real May 14, 2010, 2:37 pm

    I used to regret not figuring out how to live healthfully sooner. Like in college I felt like I somewhat wasted those years when it would’ve been way more fun to be a smokin-hot-fabulous college girl.

    Looking back at it though (besides the fact that I see myself as beautiful) I realize I wouldn’t have had the same circle of friends if my un-healthy habits had changed. Silly to say it, but it’s true. I wouldn’t have met or clicked with my now husband.

    When I think about it like that, all my regret melts away. Things happen the way that they do for a reason. This view goes back to your earlier discussion about karma and fate probably.

    • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat May 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

      Not only is your name Sarah too but I can also totally relate to what you are saying. I feel like I wasted my college years (plus a few after) being unhealthy but it’s the same thing — I wouldn’t have the same friends and I probably wouldn’t have married my husband.

      I think everything works out the way it is supposed to and we should have no regrets because if it weren’t for things we’ve done (or not done sooner, in our case), we wouldn’t be who we are today. 🙂

  • Rachel May 14, 2010, 2:40 pm

    I don’t have many regrets that I can think of. I try to avoid feeling regretful (well, who doesn’t) by doing things like staying in school and graduating college on time. I know I would have regretted it if I quit school, so I just kept trudging along even when times got hard. Now I have my degree!!!

    The only thing coming to mind is that I had a really bad (and I mean really really really bad) falling out with a college friend-turned-roommate, and we never reconciled.

    Honestly I’m still pretty sore about the situation and would like to just forgive and move on, but I’m having a hard time finding forgiveness.

  • Jaya May 14, 2010, 2:40 pm

    Wow, this is a powerful topic. I just wrote today on my own blog about regrets related to my body (sorry, not a plug). But I think its really important to swirl that regret around in your brain and let it be evidence that you have become the change you sought. It takes a strong conscience, a solid sense of humility and a desire to see your truths in order to furnish regret. In terms of getting over my own, I’ve just had to come to terms with the fact that they make me who I am. A human. Sometimes a good one 🙂

  • Therese May 14, 2010, 2:44 pm

    I think it is so hard to not think about the past and what “could have been” regardless of how happy you are at this point in time. But to dwell on it, not allowing yourself to move forward, is pointless. You cannot change the past but what you can do is learn from it and move on. Make what you “regret” into a learning experience to do better. You basically gave your reader the same points I would have given.

    I used to regret that I didn’t put myself out there the first time I went to University. I didn’t focus or try very hard and although I graduated, to this day, I know I could have done better and had a LOT more fun. I used to regret treating my body like a dungheap and using my weight as an excuse to not take risks. But, in the end, without these experiences I would not be the person I am today. Every decision we have made in our lives has lead to this very moment, right here and now. If you don’t like it, change it. No excuses. And that’s what I did, I took the things I didn’t like about my past, examined them for the causes and did all I could do, change myself and how I react to the same situations when presented with them again.

    We’ve only got one life, you can live in remorse and regret or we can learn from it and work to be better individuals!

  • Sue May 14, 2010, 2:44 pm

    I must say that I have done many things in the past that I wish I hadn’t. I used to dwell on them but realized that those thoughts were only bringing me down. I now concentrate on the present and future. No more looking back!!

  • Samantha May 14, 2010, 2:46 pm

    It’s important not to confuse guilt with regret. Guilt comes from doing something that knew was wrong, but you did it anyway (like cheating on your spouse). Regret is different. It comes later – when realize that you could have done something different or better in the past (like picking one job over another). It’s VERY IMPORTANT to understand the difference. Guilt is only guilt if you KNEW you were doing wrong but did it anyway.

  • Michelle May 14, 2010, 2:49 pm

    The one thing I always regret is that I did not pursue vet school. I got so close and then backed away from going for it. Luckily, not going to vet school brought me through a series of jobs where I learned about myself and most importantly, met my husband 🙂 I usually just try to learn from mistakes so I don’t regret them.

  • Jennifer May 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Wow this was a great post. I am 25 and goofed off my first attempt at college. All I cared about was partying and shopping, which lead me to fail out of school with a severe amount of credit card debt. I had to move back home and start working full time, and for years I have been sulking around regretting it. But you know what? I live with my boyfriend who I love, I have a great job, and I’ve been going to school at night so I only have one year left until I get that degree. Everything happens for a reason and I am really happy with the life I have NOW so I need to stop dwelling on the past.

  • Jennifer May 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Oh, and PS. Target and I are in love as well. And he LOVES to steal my money on a regular basis too.

  • kalli@fitandfortysomething May 14, 2010, 2:52 pm

    very wise advice Caitlin! i do not regret anything because without all of my poor and great choices I WOULD NOT BE WHO I AM TODAY……:) Be happy 🙂

  • Wendy May 14, 2010, 2:52 pm

    I think it’s important to look for the good things that came out of poorly made decisions that we regret later on. I regret jumping into marriage when I did (and probably to the wrong person), but if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have my two beautiful children, and I wouldn’t know how strong and independent I am.

  • Tammy May 14, 2010, 2:53 pm

    I think a huge part of moving on from regret is grieving…let’s face it…when things don’t turn out like we hoped,planned, wanted….it sucks…it’s disappointing…it HURTS. I think people try to “move past it” without dealing with the hurts associated with it..(I’m not talking about wallowing in self-pity or trying to change something that can’t be changed)it can become a pattern or a regret that really affects your life. Looking at why you regret and mourning the loss of what could have been can help you be realistic about changes you CAN make that you can feel good about.

    • Raya @ Raya Runs May 14, 2010, 5:18 pm

      Wow, I so agree. Feelings are there because they’re meant to be FELT. Once you allow yourself to truly feel something then you will be free to move on.

  • Summer May 14, 2010, 2:54 pm

    I have a lot of regrets but I leave them in the past. There is absolutely nothing I can do about them. They are not able to be corrected. Once I came to terms with that, I focused on appreciating my present and making my future better. For example, I do regret being overweight for most of my young life but there is not one single thing I can do to get that time back. Now, I focus on getting healthy now and how great my future will be.

  • zoe May 14, 2010, 2:55 pm

    nope. no regrets. i refuse to let myself regret something. i used to walk around carrying a million pounds of regret. it kept me up at night. it kept my appetite in a semi-permanent state of non-existence. i made myself feel sick. i was MISERABLE. about a year ago i realized how ridiculous i was acting and how silly it was to carry around all that baggage! it was not an easy process to start, this live-regret-free kind of life. but so far, i feel FREER and happier than i EVER have. if i have an issue, i think about it. DEEPLY. i think about what good came from it, what bad came from it, and WHAT I LEARNED. i believe everything happens for a reason, as cheesy as that sounds. ultimately i always conclude that i am HAPPY the ‘mistake’ happened — without it i would most definitely not be the person i am today. i ALWAYS take responsibility where it needs to be taken and am super honest with myself.

    but i’ve learned that every ‘mistake’ i’ve ever made has lead me to a better understanding of myself and of the person i want to become. i have become a much less timid person when dealing with issues. instead of carrying around the ‘what ifs’ and ‘whys’ i act on them. if i have an issue with a person, i approach them calmly and see if we can talk. about nine times out of ten, a resolution is reached and i ALWAYS feel so much better. that person NEVER knows what you’re thinking, so open your mouth! if anything, it will get something off your chest. and we all know how AWESOME that feels 🙂

    lastly, why live in the past? it’s unchangeable anyway. i used to dwell and dwell and dwell until i realized that the past was the past FOR A REASON! focus on the present moment and what you can do to make yourself happy THEN AND THERE. Marieke, an education is always available. never give up on your dreams, even if it means stepping out into an unknown world by yourself. YOU ARE SO MUCH STRONGER THAN YOU THINK! and there are always people there to support you 🙂

    stick with it!

  • Shellybean May 14, 2010, 3:00 pm

    I really regret that I married my first husband. Actually, I regret the fact that I ever met or gave him the time of day. He ended up being a completely different person than the person I thought I married, and betrayed me horrible (which is obviously why I ended the marriage). Those are 7 years of my life that I will never get back. Some people find comfort in the fact that if the thing they regret had never happened to them, they wouldn’t be the same person they were today, and I believe that is true (and I’ll elaborate on it in a second), but if I could go back in time and change things so that I never knew he existed, I would in a heart beat. No one deserves to go through the pain I went through over that stupid man.
    BUT I am proud of myself every day for ending that relationship. I am proud of the way that I took care of myself in the months after that relationship. Even though I was absolutely destroyed I picked myself up and went through the hard work of laying the foundation for the wonderful life that I have today. It took every ounce of strength that I had- but as I result I know I am incredibly strong- which gives me confidence. I can honestly say that I used my divorce as a spring board and now, almost 4 years later, I have a Master’s degree, a job I love, great friends, and a wonderful fiance!
    I have done so many things since then that I never thought I’d be able to do- I’ve become very fit, I’ve run a half marathon, I’ve done a ton of traveling, I’ve written (an unpublished) novel… back then I could have only dreamed of having the life I have now.
    And most importantly, I didn’t let my regret sour my belief in love and marriage, I didn’t let it ruin my faith in the goodness of people, and I didn’t let it convince me that my life would be an unhappy one.
    I will always live with my regret, but I take comfort in the fact that my life, as a whole, is well lived.

    • Katherine May 14, 2010, 3:50 pm

      I love this 🙂

    • Christina May 14, 2010, 4:11 pm

      I equally LOVE this!!!

    • Denny May 14, 2010, 5:28 pm

      Me too!

    • Stacey May 14, 2010, 5:31 pm

      Reading this made me so happy.

    • Ashley May 14, 2010, 5:41 pm

      I can identify with this. My first real boyfriend, first love, first everything turned out to be someone completely different from who I thought he was and mentally abused me until I was a shell of myself. I wish I had never met him. However, I do believe the strong, healthy, independent and confident person I am today is partially from using that breakup as a springboard to re-evaluate my life and find myself. I’ll always regret the relationship, the weak person I was and the choices I made during it but I take comfort in the fact that I’m really proud of the woman I’ve become.

  • Kacy May 14, 2010, 3:01 pm

    This is very powerful. I definitely regret letting certain circumstances bring me down during college and resulting in me not focusing on my future enough. Now I’m in a career I hate and I don’t really have the appropriate education to get where I want to go.

    I get over it by understanding that I can always change my circumstances with hard work, which is what I’m doing!

  • jen trinque @ recipes for creativity May 14, 2010, 3:05 pm

    At this moment I can’t think of anything that I did that I regret, because I learned from mistakes I made. I regret some things I haven’t done, like that time I could have rappelled down the side of a cliff in Texas but was too chicken. Adventure stuff.

    I think a great way to get over regret is to figure out what the thought behind the painful feeling is, and then find out if that thought is really true. We spend alot of time thinking we should have done this, that we shouldn’t have done that, etc, when the reality is we did what we did and now we have the choice to keep “picking up” the painful thought that we should have done things differently, or instead we can “put down” that thought and “pick up” one that feels much better.

  • V. May 14, 2010, 3:11 pm

    Right before my wedding a few years ago, my bff of 20+ years and I got into a HUGE argument. It was ugly. Like Bethenny & Jill on RHONY except less catty and rich. Over the last few years, we tried to reach out to each other and make amends but the timing was always off (i.e. when she was ready, I wasn’t and vice versa). We’re finally at a point where we’ve started the healing process and repairing our relationship but it will never be the same. I guess I regret how things went down but I’ve learned to let go. You have to.

  • emptynutjar May 14, 2010, 3:16 pm

    oh god…so much regret…regret about everything…physical stuff…and job is worse. i hate my job, but right now am so stuck its fantastically overwhelming and i feel like crying every single second. and it costs so much to just to practice in my profession — but in long-run would pay off versus some min. wage thing.
    i want to write so bad and pursue a career in that — but life and finances and physical health just a mess…its boggling and hard to deal. trying to survive one hour at a time.
    that is all i could ever advise anyone. forget yesterday. forget tommorow. just try to deal with the now.

  • Jenn @ LiveWellFitNow May 14, 2010, 3:17 pm

    My first thought for your reader is this: that we understand. That so many people understand and can recognize how you feel.

    Regret is an unresolved piece of our past. Until we can look at our past with a sense of forgiveness (even if it means forgiving yourself), gratitude (even though so much has been a challenge) and understanding. I truly believe that those are the 3 key pieces to letting go of regret.

    Only then can we truly be present, focused on our “now” and anticipating the future.

    It isn’t a simple process, letting go of regret but it can be done with simple thoughts, understanding and a willingness to grow. 🙂

  • Johanna B May 14, 2010, 3:18 pm

    I regret more things that I didn’t do than things I did. I regret not getting on that plane to Paris. I regret not finishing my masters degree. If I truly wanted to I could still do both of those things now so I don’t dwell on them very often. It’s kind of a sweet ache when I do.

  • Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) May 14, 2010, 3:19 pm

    The tip about careers is so true. I’ve made it my mission to NOT regret a career choice (ie, taking the job I want, not the job I’m “supposed” to take). It’s led to me being a much happier person.

    I regret being too passive-aggressive and sometimes alienating friends rather than confronting them with issues. It’s a hard thing to get over.

  • Colleen May 14, 2010, 3:27 pm

    I regret screwing around in school the first time around…but I regretted it so much that I went back…three years later I’m ALMOST done, and I couldn’t be more proud of myself. I really didn’t think I could do it…so I think that would be my advice to Marieke…change the things that you can change (and mean the most to you) – you will be surprised at how strong you are and how much you can accomplish! Also, make sure your regrets are your own…meaning you don’t give into the feeling of regret because someone else “guilted” you into them. I can honestly say that I would regret never getting my degree…but if I had studied another field because a family member wanted it or something like that, then I would probably resent them in some way. Regret should never be about anyone’s feelings but your own.

    And those things that you can’t change? Let them go! You are worth so much more than hanging onto that negativity. All the best to you Marieke!

  • Ali @ Redhead Reports May 14, 2010, 3:27 pm

    Regret is a powerful motivator for me. It’s a reminder that the choices we make every day make a difference.

  • Heidi May 14, 2010, 3:27 pm

    I don’t believe in regret. Yes, there are poor choices that I wish I hadn’t made. But I believe those choices are made for a reason. Maybe it’s to challenge you in ways you never thought you could handle, but you do. A few years back we made a horrible decision to partner up in a new business. It was a disaster and we are still reeling financially. But … because of certain events, there are things happening and people we have met that we would not have had the partnership not been formed. So, maybe I can regret the poor decision, but it has led me to some wonderful things that I am grateful for. I believe this can be applied to any area of life.

  • Katherine May 14, 2010, 3:48 pm

    I think we feel regret because there is something currently going on in our lives that we don’t feel comfortable with, that we view as the result of some past behavior.

    To me, this means that there is currently something that needs changing. The outcome of the past behavior or action is what is causing the feeling of regret, not the actual past behavior or action.

    Caitlin, I agree with you that in order to shake the feeling of regret (which is necessary to carry on and live a fulfilling life), we must address the residual feelings left behind from committing the action that is now being regretted.

    About 5 years ago, I was dating a boyfriend who, looking back, was highly emotionally abusive. I sometimes feel twinges of “what was I thinking?”, and “how did I let that go on for so long”, but then I realize that, as cliche as it is, I learned SO much from that relationship. I am so much stronger, wiser, and independent. I wouldn’t be in my now healthy relationship had I not been able to shake the feelings of regret and resentment I had been holding on to.

    Marieke, you can’t change the past, but you can direct your future to a place you would like to be.

  • liv May 14, 2010, 3:53 pm

    Thank you for this and many of your other posts. You are incredibly inspiring.

    • caitlin May 14, 2010, 8:26 pm

      youre welcome dearie!

  • Mellissa May 14, 2010, 3:55 pm

    Not so much as a regret but I really wish I would have done more travelling right out of undergrad, I was in such a hurry to get to work when I should have gone and seen more of the world. I travel a lot now but I wish I could have taken a few months off.

  • Angharad May 14, 2010, 4:00 pm

    You just encouraged me to write to my “ex” friend from university over a similar falling out – THANK YOU. You made today “the day” to get over the fear and just face my regret head on.

  • Katherine May 14, 2010, 4:00 pm

    I can’t say that I have no regrets, but I honestly can’t think of any at the moment. I learn from decisions. I also accept what comes with the decisions I make. We always have a million decisions to make and we have to learn to live with the outcome of those decisions. Why focus on what could have happened…enjoy what is happening. And, if you aren’t enjoying what is happening, change what you are doing. It is possible to go back to school, or contact an old friend. There is always a way. Life is too short for regrets – so I say move forward and love what you have. 🙂

  • Foy Update - Cook. Garden. Write. Repeat. May 14, 2010, 4:07 pm

    I am a big goal writer. I need to know what I am working towards. I do have regrets. The first being that I didn’t bargain for a better job when I took this one a couple months ago. I didn’t realize how much I would lose to taxes and how much health insurance would cost. But I didn’t know. So I have decided that once my first three months are up at this job I will inquire about my salary. I have also reevaluated our budget and decided to make cuts where I can. I refuse to go to take on credit card debt. It’s an interesting challenge actually.

    I tend to use regret to show me where I can make improvements and I let regret go once I know I have found a way to never make that mistake again or correct the issue. In this case I have both a short term and a long term goal. I think it will work.

  • Christina May 14, 2010, 4:16 pm

    Oh thank you Caitlin. I needed this post today.

  • Hedda May 14, 2010, 4:16 pm

    I love this post, as it made me sit down and really think. What do I feel about my past, what decisions have I made? And do I regret them?
    This made me realize that it is not so much what I have done that I regret, it is what I have not done.
    I regret not spending more time with my Grandmother and Grandfather before they past away. I regret not opening up to the guy who always tried to be there for me, and giving his all to show me that he could be trusted. I regret not being able to see that I was beautiful, and capable of so many things sooner.
    But what can one do with the decisions/things we regret?
    The best advice I have is to look at it and see what we can learn from these experiences. Turn them into something positive ; wisdom that you can apply in your future. You can not do anything about what you have done, and to go around feeling down about it will do nothing good. It is done, and dependent on your attitude it can affect your life in a positive or negative way. Learn from your past, take advantage of your past experiences and live life to the fullest.

  • Amber K @ sparkpeople May 14, 2010, 4:25 pm

    I wish I was as strong as those who have responded who do not regret things. I definitely think it is a place I can get to, but I know that I am not there yet.

  • Katie - Life Discombobulated May 14, 2010, 4:26 pm

    That was an awesome post! And such great points. I have really tried to live my life and make decisions based on regret, in that I really weigh something and think about which choice I’m likely to regret making/not making later. I’ve done PLENTY of things that I’m not overly proud of now, or that I still feel a little twinge when I think about, but I choose not to regret them. As lots of people have already said, my choices in the past have made me who I am today. I try (emphasis on TRY) to learn from mistakes and good choices and help them guide my choices when I make other decisions. I will say, though… With all of the time I’ve spent contemplating the “right” choice, I’ve probably missed out on other things. And sometimes, a person just has to go with their gut. But one of my life mottos is “NO REGRETS!” (and everybody Wang Chung tonight) 🙂

  • Sassy Molassy May 14, 2010, 4:30 pm

    This is a great post. Regrets are so interesting and clearly tons of your readers have something to say about it. Gotta love that. I have a few regrets here and there, but the #1 regret constantly is that I don’t take more chances in life. I’m so careful about making the RIGHT decision and don’t just jump to do something fun and spontaneous and even SCARY. I need to push myself more often.

  • Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly May 14, 2010, 4:34 pm

    I think we all have regret…it is not human not to. But it is how you deal with it that shapes how you let it affect you. Some people let it eat them alive and other people make peace with it and move forward. Some regrets you can change and some you just have to accept. Dwelling on a regret that you can not change serves no purpose.

  • Nikky May 14, 2010, 4:35 pm

    I can’t say I regret a lot of the bad in my life, I was angry about it for a long time but I owe the person I am today to everything that has happened in my life. I like me, I’m proud of my strength and my ability to adapt to drastic change without fluttering an eyelash.

    I do, however, have three major things I would go back and change. I regret my attendance in high school. I haven’t changed my opinion that I was royally screwed by the school’s policy and that attendance does not make or break my ability to learn (long story short, I missed more days than the max of 9 per year and despite a 4.2 GPA with AP classes I wasn’t permitted to graduate). But I regret not sharing the field with my friends on graduation day. I regret the way I treated my grandma, who I lived with growing up instead of my mom. I was majorly spoiled and every bit a definition of a brat. I wish I could go back and be more helpful. She was my best friend and the most amazingly kind woman I’ll ever know, and I hate that I ever caused her pain. My last is I wish I’d put more effort into knowing my older half brother. Our dad has been in jail since we were 2 months and 4 years old, and our moms hated each other so we didn’t talk much after my dad’s mom got sick. He moved to Asheville (I’m near Detroit) 10 years ago, and other than one or two emails two years ago we didn’t talk. He died in a car crash last year. But, I have made a bigger effort with my eldest half brother because of it. I can’t honestly say he’s been receptive (he’s got a lot of anger about dad and Billy, and their mom who passed three months before Billy) but I think we’ll get there eventually.

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) May 14, 2010, 4:42 pm

    Awesome email from the reader!
    There are a few things I regret in life. In fact, I think people are kidding themselves when they say they’ve never regretted anything ever in their entire lives (please, you’ve done SOMETHING you wish you’d done differently.) However, the way we deal with regret is what’s important. I regret being so horrible to my parents in high school, however, I’m absolving that regret by being great to them now.

    • Paige (Running Around Normal) May 14, 2010, 4:50 pm

      Eek, that sounded snobbier than I meant it to. Just saying that we all have done things we wish we didn’t, and it’s important to leave them in the past or deal with them. Dwelling on them isn’t productive to getting rid of the icky regretful feeling!

  • Tina May 14, 2010, 4:44 pm

    I agree that regret is harder to get rid of than guilt. I think your tips were great. The only thing we can do about things we regret are to find ways to improve and amend those situations now…or if there is no way to do so move forward. We should always recognize that our life choices shape us and even the most regretful moments of our lives have likely taught us something that we can be thankful for.

  • Lindsay May 14, 2010, 4:51 pm

    I personally choose not to have regrets. I feel that everything in my life happens in order to make me the person that I am meant to be and to teach me important life lessons. The decisions that you might regret can be looked back on and used so that you know what you want to do differently in the future. Try to view your “mistakes” in a positive light, and to make changes that will help you create the life that you really want.

  • Michal May 14, 2010, 4:53 pm

    “There’s no such thing as no regrets, but baby it’s alright” (Mary Chapin Carpenter song)
    My experience with regret is that I have to push myself forward by focusing on the present – either “let it go, focus on the good” or “what can I do in my life now to improve the situation caused by doing/not doing whatever.” I’m a strong believer in the “change one thing and it changes everything” mantra and so I often focus on the futility of regret – but I do think it can be a powerful motivator towards attaining a “dream deferred.” It’s a tricky balance line between regret and guilt, and that’s something to look out for.

  • Raya @ Raya Runs May 14, 2010, 5:01 pm

    I think it’s definitely easier to say “everything I’ve gone through has made me who I am today” when you are at a good place in your life. But if you’re just pulling yourself out of a bad situation, it definitely doesn’t feel that way. I am somewhere in the middle at this point in my life but I do have 3 main regrets, a couple old and one more recent.

    1. All through middle and high school, there were these 4 girls who picked on me mercilessly. I have no idea why to this day. They even went so far as to pour hot chocolate in my hair on the schoolbus one morning. Because of them, I never tried out for the soccer team even though my phys. ed teacher (back then we called it “gym”) told me I should because I was good. But they all played soccer and I was scared. I regret that I never confronted them about it and that I shorted myself of that opportunity because of what 4 nobodies thought of me. I feel my whole life as far as fitness and healthy eating would have turned out so much differently in terms of health and fitness.

    2. I regret not getting a business/marketing job as soon as I graduated. I was comfortable at my current job (although bored) and felt no rush to switch. Now I am stuck in a similar (although not the same) job and I am bored to tears. It is not my passion or my career and I need a change. I am currently applying everywhere but it’s hard when you have no experience in the industries.

    3. I regret allowing myself to be in two different relationships over the last couple of years (at different times of course) with the wrong people. I knew at a certain point somehow deep down that they weren’t right for me or that something was “off” and they were not being honest but I ignored my instincts because I “loved” them and probably also because I didn’t want to be alone. I regret losing myself in them and I am just now pulling myself out of that, slowly but surely. I know that someday I will probably look back and think “they made me who I am today” and I’m sure that that me will eventually meet someone great and honest. But at the moment I waver back and forth between that and wishing I’d never met either one of them. Because no one deserves to waste that many tears on people who obviously don’t have true feelings for you.

    • Denny May 14, 2010, 5:26 pm

      I agree with you. It’s totally OK to have regrets.

    • caitlin May 14, 2010, 8:27 pm

      you rock. that is all.

      i can beat up those hot chocolate girls if you want me to?

      • Raya @ Raya Runs May 14, 2010, 9:46 pm

        THANK YOU!! 🙂

      • Raya @ Raya Runs May 14, 2010, 9:50 pm

        Oh and nah, they’re not worth it. Although I wonder how they would feel about a green monster in their hair? hehe

  • Gloria May 14, 2010, 5:14 pm

    I don’t comment on here often, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. Your posts are so thoughtful and you can tell that you put a lot of time and effort into them. I enjoy your attitude toward life and that’s probably why I enjoy your blog so much 🙂 So thank you!

    • caitlin May 14, 2010, 8:28 pm

      thank you, i really appreciate that!

  • Lacey May 14, 2010, 5:20 pm

    This is an absolutely amazing post. I love your advice of identifying, letting go and moving forward. I have an ongoing regret that I don’t really feel comfortable posting, but am going to try to live by your advice from now on!

  • Lisa C. May 14, 2010, 5:22 pm

    Caitlin I have to say I really admire what you do for your readers…you are truly motivational and for that, I thank you. There are certainly things in my past that I regret…but I think you just need to make a huge effort to move forward with these lessons in tow.

  • Denny May 14, 2010, 5:24 pm

    I think that regret can be useful. I know a lot of people say that they don’t have regrets, and I will never understand that. Sure you can learn from regrets, but you can still have them, right? Especially if you do the same dumb thing again…

  • Katie @ Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Journey May 14, 2010, 5:35 pm

    Oh gosh, there’s so many things I regret but they all kind of boil down to two main things.
    #1. I regret that I didn’t have a better relationship with my dad. He committed suicide in 2008; some of the things he mentioned in his note just broke my heart because I realized that he really had had good intentions a lot of time and I misunderstood them. I wish I had treated him differently and had loved him more.

    #2. I regret my little wild streak in college. I did a lot of stupid things, things that even now 5-6 years later I am super embarrassed to recall. But thankfully there is grace and who I was in that time does not define who I am now.

    • caitlin May 14, 2010, 8:28 pm

      i’m sorry about your dad 🙁

  • Jackie (Peaces of Earth) May 14, 2010, 5:48 pm

    I think it all comes down to forgiveness, and learning to forgive ourselves is essential to living a healthy, happy life NOW. The past is the past and we can’t change it. Regret is a weight that we absolutely do not have to bare. It’s hard sometimes, but I’m committed to self-love and forgiveness so I don’t have any room for regret in my life. 🙂 Excellent post, Caitlin!!

  • N May 14, 2010, 5:52 pm

    My only true regret is a relationship I had with a married man that caused his divorce. That’s pretty regrettable.

  • Helga May 14, 2010, 6:17 pm

    Great post Caitlin, really made me think.
    I aim to have no regrets in life, regret is really the worst feeling. I totally agree with you, we either have to let go of the things we regret or simply change, ourselves or the situation. We can’t change the past but we can control the future, a cliche I know – but true!

  • Jessica @ The Process of Healing May 14, 2010, 6:36 pm

    Love this post. I was just thinking about this recently as well. I would like to not have regrets and just move forward with my life but honestly? I have them. I regret how I treated my body SO POORLY for oh so many years. I put it through a lot, and now I’m paying for it. I regret relationships or the lack of… I fall for the “bad boys” and hurt the good ones AND myself in the process. Yet I just. can’t. stop. falling for the wrong people, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me sometimes. And I know that everything happens for a reason, I just don’t understand the reasons for some things just yet.

  • *Andrea* May 14, 2010, 7:23 pm

    great post caitlin! i regret choosing to cope with a difficult situation in high school by become anorexic for a short period. it messed up my eating habits and self esteem and caused a lot of relationships to be strained. however, i probably would never have learned to finally treat my body with respect, start reading healthy blogs like yours and learning cool tricks and ways to love veggies 😉

  • Kelly May 14, 2010, 7:31 pm

    Very interesting post. I usually say I don’t believe in having regrets because there is nothing you can do about something that already happened and it’s brought you to where you are today. On the other hand, I think it’s okay to have regrets like you said if you find ways to make them better or accept them and move on. After all, if we think we should’ve done something differently, at least we will in the future!

  • lindsay May 14, 2010, 7:54 pm

    Great post! I don’t have regrets because I made that choice and I can’t change it now!!! I like to think of how I could do better next time though 🙂

  • rebecca May 14, 2010, 7:57 pm

    i’ve gotta tell you caitlin, i love how your blog has evolved. so many interesting and thought provoking topics! keep up the wonderful work 🙂

  • Sarah May 14, 2010, 8:12 pm

    Great topic!

    I like what you said about making changes that move you forward. You cannot change the past, erase what you said, reverse a decision that you made. You cannot go back, you can only go forward. You can look at your life and think about the positive changes you can make in the future.

    Unfortunately, some decisions are permanent. Like you, Caitlin, I lost a friend because of how I acted and I wish I had handled things differently with. But I can’t change what I did. I apologized and I’ve changed how I act in my current friendships. Maybe one day we’ll be friends again – maybe not. But I know I am a better person.

  • jenny (green food diaries) May 14, 2010, 8:46 pm

    i really like your attitude towards regret – moving forward is what we should focus on.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) May 14, 2010, 8:48 pm

    I regret not dealing with my eating problems earlier. I had an ED that caused some of them and I ignored my body for others. But to get past it I’ve worked on moving forward. I got therapy for the ED and I am currently dealing with the second.

    If you dwell on it the regret will continue to eat at you and make it impossible to move forward.

  • Jess May 14, 2010, 9:00 pm

    Hey Caitlin, this was something I really needed to read today as I’ve been thinking about some big life decisions. Your thoughts on regret were really helpful so thanks!

    • caitlin May 14, 2010, 9:07 pm

      your welcome!

  • Rachael May 14, 2010, 9:55 pm

    I went through an extended lone wolf phase where I would connect with people, then convince myself I didn’t need them and flee..the state, the country…I sincerely regret not taking into consideration their needs and feelings, and also losing out on what could have been meaningful, life-long relationships.
    In general, though, I’ve been a risk-taker, a little wild and arguably hazardous in my decision making process. The result? I don’t regret having not done things, and most of my more painful decisions have ultimately led to beautiful experiences and people. I’m madly in love with my partner, and had I not “screwed up” an action, I never would have wandered into his path.
    Happy weekending!

  • Evelyn @ cheers2healthy May 14, 2010, 11:59 pm

    This is just the post I needed to read today! It is like a sign 😀

  • Wei-Wei May 15, 2010, 3:00 am

    God, there’s so much I regret.

    I regret agreeing to transfer schools in the first place, without consulting my actual feelings. I regret pushing my old friends away, thinking I wouldn’t need them in the future. I regret not making any new friends when it was prime time to do so. I regret withdrawing from the world to focus on my disorder. I regret thinking that being mature and independent meant that I could rely on myself and only myself. I regret throwing that first breakfast into the bin, which lead to all the others following it. I regret lying to my mom. I regret having no friends.

    Most of all, I regret forgetting about myself. I wish I could have seen that I had my life before my feet, and that I was wasting it away trying to be thin. I regret not-living, so much.

    Thanks for this post. It really made me think.


  • Juli D. May 15, 2010, 7:45 am

    I agree with all of your thoughts on regret and your advise for the reader. I love where my life is now and where I am as a person now – and I wouldn’t be here if not for the good AND bad decisions I’ve made. We are constantly growing/changing our attitudes as people and probably getting “wiser” so it makes sense that you would look back and say “That probably wasn’t the best decision.” But it was who you were then and doesn’t define your life now. Try to view the event you regret as something that taught you an important lesson for the future so that your life is better now. To sit and wallow and make your life worse now is of no benefit to anyone.

  • Shayna May 15, 2010, 10:40 am

    My best friend was just given your blog info., and we have been steadily following your blog for some time now… I love all of the diverse topics, but this is hands down my favorite post so far.

    Keep up the good work! I thoroughly enjoy refreshing your site daily.

    • caitlin May 15, 2010, 10:43 am

      thank you so much!

  • Christena May 15, 2010, 11:45 am

    Good topic. This sounds really terrible, but I regret graduate school and my career choice. I am only 4 years in, but I have a ton of student loans and I *have* to work in this career, at least for the forseeable future, because it pays enough to repay the loans. I wish I had followed my heart and gone to school to be an English teacher/writer. So, Caitlin, I am glad that you do not regret the $4,000 for trying to get into PT school. That amount is nothing compared to the amount of debt you would have incurred for school and a career you might not have been happy with!

  • Carolyn @ lovinlosing.com May 16, 2010, 7:51 am

    I have many regrets like most everyone, but I am who I am based on the decisions I’ve made so I wouldn’t change anything.

  • Marieke May 17, 2010, 4:08 am

    Thanks all of you for the replies, this was very helpful and I can really do something with this. What a great bunch of people! Thanks again.

  • Jess August 25, 2011, 9:20 am

    I regret hooking up with a guy when my boyfriend and I were fighting and on a break for part of the summer, what do i do? it just sits in the back of my mind.

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