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5 Tools To Try If You Feel Regret About Career, Marriage, Or Other Big Life Decisions

Written by: Vasundhra Gupta, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Are you questioning if you’ve made the right choice by getting married, or working for your current employer? Or you might doubt your decision to leave a job, relationship, or some other big life situation. I hear you! The feeling of regret can hold us back in so many ways. We are neither able to fully stay, nor leave. It’s like living with one foot out the door.

sad desperate ashamed female in trouble having problem

So how do we overcome this feeling of regret? And how can we make the next decision so that it doesn’t lead to more remorse? Here are some suggestions for you.

1. Celebrate this feeling of regret!

If you look back at a decision and now feel differently about it, it means you've evolved. It means you are a different person now. Your needs are different. And you're probably more authentic and aligned with your values. So start seeing your regret as a sign of growth and acknowledge yourself for how far you’ve come.

2. Don’t let regret make the next decision for you.

This is something I often share with my clients: YOU are the decision maker, NOT your emotions.

Yes, feelings like regret, anger, or sadness are all feedback and useful to us. They help us understand what’s working and what’s not. But when we are consumed by the charge of these emotions, we might not be able to see the full picture.

For instance, a mother might regret not completing her Ph.D. because her child was born at the “wrong time.” But if the mother was to work through her feelings, she may soon discover how much she appreciates the child being here and that she can always go back to school later. However, if she were to remain stuck with the narrow lens of regret, this mother might lose the opportunity to enjoy her motherhood.

So, the suggestion here is to sit with your emotions and soak in their wisdom before you decide to act in one way or the other.

3. Forgive yourself for not knowing better.

When we are making decisions, we can never know the full consequence of our choices. No matter how much time we spend thinking through a decision or planning out how things will unfold, we may still not get the perfect outcome for us. So it's important that we start by forgiving ourselves for not knowing how this situation would have turned out.

Here are examples of what self-forgiveness can sound like. These statements are inspired by the teachings of the University of Santa Monica. I forgive myself for making this decision. The truth is, I went forward with a leap of faith and I couldn’t have known what would happen.

I forgive myself for not considering so-and-so parameters while making this decision. The truth is, I did the best I could have with my knowledge and experience at that time.

Ideally, you’d want to say these statements out loud so you can really hear them and feel the forgiveness you’re offering to yourself. And try to come up with at least 5-10 of them!

Yes, this step can feel very hard at first. Because self-forgiveness means we can no longer blame ourselves for how the situation turned out. And not being able to blame ourselves means we are letting go of the illusion that this outcome was in our control! In other words, we are finally accepting things for what they are.

But that doesn’t mean we accept defeat! In fact, as hard as it is to let go of this false sense of control, in the long run, it will lead to a greater sense of freedom. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

4. Grieve the life you couldn’t have.

This ties in with the previous suggestion. Many of us live with the hope that things might get better. And we may hold on to this feeling of hope for far too long - only for it to turn into regret.

While short-term, feeling hopeful can be a healthy coping mechanism, in the long run, it can create a disconnect from reality.

It’s not to say that things can’t get better! Nope. But it’s about accepting situations for the way they are, versus focusing on their unfulfilled potential.

For instance, you might start dating an artist because they talk about their dreams and goals very passionately, only later to find out that it’s all talk and very little action – they haven’t been working for months! Of course, this person is full of potential and might unlock it someday. But if you’re feeling resentment because you’ve been lifting all the financial weight of this relationship, you may need to start by accepting how things are right now, and that they might stay this way for a while.

When you do that, you can have a clear conversation about your needs.

This may lead to your partner finding a more sustainable job or you coming to the realization that you don’t want to be in this dynamic anymore. Maybe you don’t even need to have a conversation because you end up finding creative ways to support your partner’s passion in a way that finally unlocks their potential! So as you can see, as a result of no longer hiding behind hope, you are not disconnected from reality - you are working with it.

Here, another challenging but important suggestion is to grieve the life you couldn’t have, and the needs that weren’t met. The grieving process will look different for every individual. Some may choose to journal about it or write an apology letter to their younger self. Others may consider being supported through these difficult emotions by a professional. If you’re looking for a resource, I’m happy to be one for you and I share more about that at the end of the article.

The essence is that we acknowledge there’s a gap in our situation so that we can give ourselves permission to meet the physical, mental, emotional, or even spiritual needs that haven’t been met all this while.

5. Discover what you need right NOW to be happy.

My favorite part about this journey of self-development is realizing how much power we have! This is a true sense of freedom - the one that comes from within. Once we’ve accepted life for what it is, we can get creative and design how we want it to look going forward.

So sit down with a pen and paper, and start evaluating what your needs are. Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • What’s missing? Ex: I feel burnout from taking care of my family all the time. I need more time and space to focus on just myself, like working out, going on spiritual retreats, having a late night with my friends, etc.

  • How many of these needs can you take care of by yourself? And how many of these require help from another individual or group? Ex: I can take responsibility for planning my me-time more intentionally and I will also need the help of my family or a nanny to look after my kids while I’m away.

  • Can you take care of these needs still being in this situation, or would you need to leave? Ex: Sometimes, I could take the kids with me on my brunch dates with friends. However, I cannot leave my kids at home alone, so I will need to have a serious conversation with my spouse instead of being passive-aggressive all the time. I trust that we can come up with creative solutions together. In case my needs are not considered, I also give myself permission to reevaluate our relationship.

Concluding Thoughts

Regret can be a scary feeling to live with because it invites us to admit that life isn’t how we wanted it to be. And if we listen to this feeling, regret becomes a harbinger of change. Sometimes very drastic changes will happen like the ending of a relationship or job. So, I want to remind you to look beyond the fear that comes from change and remember: whatever happens when you choose yourself, will be for your highest good!

Need professional support in overcoming regret or navigating a challenging situation? You can book a laser-focused coaching session with me using this link.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info! Read more from Vasundhra!


Vasundhra Gupta, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Vasundhra Gupta is the founder of My Spiritual Shenanigans, a unique resource for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Her work as a writer & life coach has touched over half a million lives worldwide. This journey began when Vasundhra saw 11:11 on the clock and mysterious things started happening to her. Ever since, she is on a mission to help herself and others create a life full of purpose, connection, and growth.


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