So many regrets

So many regrets

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal how regrets can actually be very positive.

First a quick update:

JetBlue attendant flips out – a sign of rampant stress in society”
Read the interview I gave to a reporter from the Chicago Tribune about Steven Slater, The JetBlue flight attendant who became so fed up with an argument with a passenger, that he flipped out, cursed the passenger over the intercom, grabbed a beer and then deployed the emergency slide at New York’s Kennedy Airport. I reveal the link between Slater’s actions, rampant stress in society, frustration with rude people, a backlash against big corporations and increasingly decaying work conditions and pressure.

Charlie Sheen: “I’ll kill you”
According to a police report, actor Charlie Sheen threatened his wife, saying “I’ll kill you.” Brooke Mueller says her husband Charlie Sheen sat on her, strangled her, and held a knife to her throat on Christmas day. Listen to the interview I gave to Alan Stock host of Newsradio 840 KXNT when I point out that the case of Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson have both failed to highlight the serious issue of domestic violence and too many people including groups that represent survivors of domestic abuse have remained silent about Charlie Sheen; favoritism and money are reasons that Charlie Sheen or his TV show “Two and a half men” are not being boycotted.  To listen to interview visit “Charlie Sheen: “I’ll kill you” or you click here to read the transcript of this interview.

Learn my coaching/therapeutic techniques”
It’s almost ready – I will be offering for the first time, a training course on my “Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique” (SRTT.) Look for an email in the next few days.

Now, let’s talk about regrets and how they can actually be beneficial.

This summer’s blockbuster movie “Inception” features a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer that originates from Edit Piaf’s famous French song from 1960: “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” – no, I regret nothing. In fact, the song matches Inception because the theme of regret weaves throughout the film.  In Inception, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” is used to signal the various characters that it is time to wake up and/or “kick up” into a higher dream level. The English translation of “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”:

No, nothing at all, I regret nothing at all
Not the good, nor the bad. It is all the same.
No, nothing at all, I have no regrets about anything.
It is paid, wiped away, forgotten.
I am not concerned with the past, with my memories.
I set fire to my pains and pleasures,
I don’t need them anymore.
I have wiped away my loves and my troubles
Swept them all away
I am starting again from zero.
No, nothing at all, I have no regrets
Because from today, my life, my happiness, everything,
Starts with you!
What does it mean to regret or have regrets?

The dictionary defines regret as to feel sorry or sad that something has happened; a feeling of sorrow, remorse or guilt for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

Wikipedia defines regret as “a negative conscious and emotional reaction to personal past acts and behaviors.” But Wikipedia is mistaken as I will explain shortly.

We all have regrets of some sort; something in our past that we wish we could have done differently; maybe we wish we had not said those hurtful words or maybe we wish we had not treated that person in that way; maybe we even feel sad or sorry for something we didn’t do or didn’t say. Is there someone in your life who has passed on and to whom you wish you had said those words – “I love you” or “I forgive you”?

Like Wikipedia, some counselors and therapists believe that regrets are negative but that is not true. Yes, regrets can lead to guilt but sometimes we need to feel regret and guilt for things we did or didn’t do.


We learn from our regrets and even from our guilt. We need to feel guilt to jolt us into changing our behavior. We need guilt and regret so that we can avoid repeating the same mistake and so that we can become aware of the way our actions affect the people around us. Without guilt and regret we could not have morality and ethics; we need regret and guilt so that we can learn to truly say sorry and make amends with the people we have wronged. For example, if we didn’t feel any regret or guilt for wronging someone, then we would lack all empathy and compassion. However, I am not saying that we stay stuck in the guilt or that we allow the regrets to paralyze us and prevent us from enjoying life. In fact, initial guilt and regret can move us forward.

I recall entering a relationship with a girl knowing full well in my own mind from the beginning exactly the way it would turn out – with her cheating on me; and it did. I recall in that same relationship having close to ten key moments when it was time to let go of the relationship but refusing out of stubbornness, a desire to rescue and change her, to gain her approval, and my fear of what would happen when the relationship ended. But the pain, the guilt and the regret at the end of the relationship (when she cheated on me), taught me to listen to my intuition, to be more flexible – to accept when it is time to let go of a relationship, to stop trying to rescue girls, and to seek my own approval. But I learned these lessons only because I felt the pain that came from the regrets of not taking certain action.

The lesson here is to use your regrets of the past to help you take action in the present; to make better choices now. Maybe you didn’t speak up as a child in a critical moment and now you remind yourself to speak your truth with compassion.

The key is to use the past regrets to shape your future. I know that deep in my heart, I regret not having made more of an effort to get close to my father before he passed, to establish a relationship with him and to know each other. Of course, it is too late now and wallowing in the guilt, sadness, loss and disappointment serves no positive benefit. However, I used that as a reminder to avoid the same mistake with other members of my family and so I made a conscious effort to get closer and establish relationships with brothers, nieces and nephews, even though they live in another country.

If I stayed stuck in the “what ifs” I would end up destroying myself – mentally, emotionally and physically: “What if I had a good relationship with my dad? What if we knew each other and had bonded?” Choosing to obsess over the “what ifs” only leads to further disappointment in the present, making one think that his or her life is completely messed up and creating hopelessness, anxiety and depression. I cannot change the past and thinking about ‘what ifs’ would only leave me feeling helpless and out of control. The empowering response is to look at what I can control now – my present choices and to make conscious choices to avoid the same mistake – and thus ultimately avoid the same pain.

Thus regrets of the past can help us to avoid regrets of the future by becoming more aware and cognizant of our actions in each moment. The key to dealing with regrets is to determine when regrets are positive and when they are not; we can use them to make amends in the present and then release the regret and guilt so that it doesn’t paralyze and bind us now and in the future.

In conclusion; we are all fallible, we all make mistakes. We will always have regrets for things we did or didn’t do. The key to emotional freedom and empowerment is to learn from our past mistakes, to use regret to motivate us to move beyond fear, acting in spite of fear, and to live to our full potential. Take action now, live from your heart to avoid ending life with regrets, but, forgive yourself when you make mistakes and immediately make amends with others when you wrong them.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.

Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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