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When reflecting on past experiences, relationships and friendships, regret is often one of the first emotions that surfaces. Wishing you wore a different outfit, phrased a sentence differently or fought harder during a situation are often the thoughts that pop up in our head. While wishing things went differently is perfectly normal, allowing that regret and negative headspace to take over your actions isn’t helpful, and that cycle needs to be broken.

You can sit there all day long and wish you didn’t date that toxic person, given that friend a second chance or prioritized something that is completely meaningless, but instead of beating yourself up over it or wishing you could go back in time, use the opportunity as a learning opportunity. Understand that you were in an unfortunate position then, but you’re exactly where you need to be now. 

Everything happens for a reason, and even if you didn’t like the outcome of the situation, you can’t change it, and it’s going to bring you something even more magical and fulfilling. 

Everyone makes mistakes. They are unfortunately inevitable, but how we handle ourselves and rebuild after the downfall is so important and so much more beneficial than regret. 

Envisioning yourself standing on a hill and looking down at all your past regrets and saying, “Thank you for the experience and opportunity to learn, but you will no longer govern my future thoughts,” is a great way to relieve some emotional weight. 

I know it’s easier said than done, but relinquishing yourself of the weight of those past decisions will be the most welcoming breath of fresh air. 

Writing a letter to someone and burning it, writing your thoughts and regrets on a plate and smashing it or finding another healthy way to let go of your regrets is so therapeutic and definitely helps in the long run. Another very helpful tip is to think of advice you would give to your friend if they were in a similar situation, and follow that advice. 

We’re often our biggest critics, but with situations like these, having patience is imperative in grappling unresolved regret.

Also, keep in mind that friendships and relationships that you’ve had in the past are exactly what you wanted during that time, and there is a reason it doesn’t suit you now. You’re continually blossoming into your most authentic self everyday, so eventually you’re going to outgrow certain relationships and people. 

The best thing you can do for yourself is prioritize your needs, and if holding on to regret doesn’t serve you in the best way possible, break that habit. Once you’re able to move on and start living more in the present, you are going to be so much happier and you can focus on the relationships that actually matter.   

Sophia Donis

Mizzou '23

I’m a Journalism major with a minor in Political Science from the Chicago suburbs! I love interior design, spending time with my friends and snuggling up with a good book!
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