Where do we place regrets?

It’s a common saying that many of us know – “live with no regrets.” Sometimes it is simply abbreviated and made into a tattoo -“no regrets.”

But what exactly does this mean? By choosing to live without regrets, am I saying that I forgive myself for the wrongs I’ve done? Or am I saying from now on I am going to live a life that I won’t regret later on?

I suppose it is a mix of the two, because regrets are in our past and we want to keep them out of our future.

One Sunday during his sermon my pastor mentioned how he has many regrets. It took me by surprise, because I hadn’t really heard anyone say that in a while. The message I’ve been hearing lately is live without any regrets.

I thought, do I regret anything? I asked Terry if he had any regrets and he couldn’t think of one. He said life is too short to focus on regrets.

I think it is difficult to regret anything when we are happy with how our life is now. If we made different decisions, perhaps we wouldn’t be who we are now. I think it is easy to say “I wouldn’t change a thing even if I could”, because it is impossible to even fathom the option.

But I do have regrets.

I regret not soaking up all the moments I’ve been given with my family. I regret not immediately apologizing when I’ve said something out of line. I regret not letting people know how much I care about them when I had the opportunity. I regret the damage I’ve done to my body by not caring for it.

Regrets are just what they are. They are things that we did that we wished we didn’t but we can’t change now, so we move on. Maybe “life without regrets” means that we don’t hold onto regrets but we let them go.We are the way we are because of the decisions we made, but our decisions in the future should be made with our past in mind.

Last night at church while in discussion with some young adults, I asked them if they believed in life without regrets. They all seemed to agree that it was impossible to not have any regrets. One of my girls interpreted “life without regrets” as moving on, letting them go, and learning from them.


The pain we feel from the regrets we have can be thought of as a quiet, soft sadness that gives our lives depth and meaning. Without it, how will we ever grow?

What are you thoughts on regrets- forget about them? Meditate on them? I’d love to hear where you choose to place them.

Thanks Amanda for the opportunity to think out loud with others.

15 thoughts on “Where do we place regrets?

  1. I think it’s important to give regrets some thought and analysis. If we can understand why we regret something and how it came about, we can adjust things in the future. However, it’s also important not to dwell on them forever or beat yourself up.

  2. It’s such a coincidence you’d post about this topic just now because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Life without regrets seems impossible to me. A nice idea, maybe, but I doubt any person in the world has not at least a few regrets about missed chances. Rather, I think we should see regrets as lessons on where we might want to do things differently the next time.

  3. I am so impressed with Terry’s philosophy about life being too short to have regrets. I do wish that I could let things go, not dwell or regret the mistakes I’ve made, and move on. Unfortunately, I am not that kind of person, yet. I hope to be someday.
    I like your friend’s idea that we learn from those regrets and try to be better as a result of them.
    Great post!!

  4. Regrets. I think they do provide me a reminder of where I don’t want to go, what I don’t want to do again, the mistakes I don’t want to repeat.

  5. Honestly, I think when people say they have no regrets, it’s a cop out. Or maybe an edgier way of saying “it [life] is what it is.”

    I certainly have regrets: not living on campus the first semester of college, not taking more risks, not saving more $ all these years, things I’ve said and done to my husband & family, not spending more time with my loved ones…the list goes on.

    But, like you, I think the saying implies we choose to learn from, move past, and try not to dwell on our regrets. In that case, yes, I live with no regrets.

  6. I’m not sure a life without regrets could be a reality, but I do think it’s possible to have them and not focus or dwell on them. Are there a lot of things I’m unhappy that I did or didn’t do? Sure. But they’re not really something I think about, and they’re not something that gets me down. I had reasons for what I did/didn’t do, and while they may not make sense now, they made sense in that moment, and dwelling on things that we can no longer change is just goofy. Best to make the most of what we have now.

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