Regret haunts you in all ages, under all circumstances

Discovering the Deeper Structure of Regret to Prevent Mental Health Damage

“Do you wish you had done things in your life differently?” The answer to this question is only the beginning of regret, a strong emotion that causes feelings of repentance, disappointment, and sadness.

Here’s the deeper structure of regret:

1. Foundation

This form of regret represents a failure to comply with responsibility. Typically, this category is filled with health and finance-related incidents — “if only I hadn’t wasted all my savings on drinking the night away.”

2. Boldness

We regret the chances we don’t take, such as starting a new business, investing in stocks, or chasing that one true love. It makes you sound like a failure, “If I would have taken the chance, it’d be so rich right now.” Fortunately, there’s an easy way to deal with inaction regrets — doing the undoable.

3. Moral

There are times when we’re forced to take the low road. Moral regrets are the greatest in variety, which also makes them the most painful ones — “if only I could get there in time, I’d be able to save him.” The only way to fix it is to force yourself to take the high road instead — try saying, “I did the best I could.”

4. Connection

A connection regret occurs when you neglect someone who helped establish your sense of wholeness. It’s the fractured relationships that sound like, “if only I had reached out one last time” and make up for the largest category of regrets. The only way is to do better the next time if it’s a closed-door regret, but if it’s one with an open door, get moving today.

Learn from failure

As Genki Kawamura said, “no matter how you look at it, life is full of regrets anyway.” But coping with regret is important for changing perspectives, showing compassion, and validating emotions. If you need help overcoming regret, reach out to the Farsi-speaking family therapist, marriage counselor, and physiologist operational in the Bay Area of Palo Alto, CA.  

With 20 years of experience, Azizeh E. Rezaiyan has founded Silicon Valley Marriage Counseling — a relationship counseling center in Palo Alto, California. She offers couples counseling, cross-cultural marriage counseling, premarital counseling, sexuality for couples, infidelity, same-sex couples counseling, male depression treatment, anxiety therapy palo alto, and family mediation.

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