What Is Regret?

One of the strongest and most difficult emotions people can feel is regret. If this sensation goes unaddressed, it can have cascading negative effects on one’s life. But what exactly is regret?

Simply put, it’s a mix of emotions typically encompassed by anger, sadness, remorse and or confusion. Oftentimes, people experience regret over missed opportunities to express their feelings or act on a situation. Sometimes this occurs with the loss of a loved one or overreaction to a given situation. 

For a lot of us, living with this sensation is one of the most difficult things to do in life. It can eat away at our thoughts and emotions and cause us to go into a negative spiral. This is especially true for people with substance use disorder, which can even lead to relapse. But there’s a couple ways to help train our minds and bodies to release the feeling of regret. Below are some strategies for helping people change their perspectives and emotions surrounding regret.


How To Face Regret

The first approach to facing regret is to accept the past. Try to understand that we can’t change what occurred, only how we choose to deal with it. Secondly, we can work to better understand ourselves. Through a combination of therapeutic techniques, our ability to learn how we think and what motivates us will grow. This empowers us to articulately address situations that might lead to regret if gone unspoken. On a similar note, we can try to make amends and seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. AA and other forms of therapy teach us to communicate our regret over our past actions through making amends.

Moreover, we can try to find a deeper reason or motivation for why something happened. Our emotions or actions are not always clear the moment they occur. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand why we acted the way we did. But exploring the depths of our internal motivations can be very cathartic and help us in the long run.  

No matter what approach we take, we need to be adequately prepared for feedback from others. It’s not always easy or pleasant to make amends or address the actions of our past. For this reason, it’s important to use a professional therapist or sponsor to help prepare you to receive potentially hurtful feedback. The goal here is to relieve some of the regret you might feel without triggering a relapse.


If you or your loved one is filled with regret or emotional barriers to growing through your substance use disorder, we can help. Our highly qualified team can help you move past your regret and deal with your substance use head on. Contact us now to learn more!