“So here’s the story: After a lifetime of hand-copying ancient texts, an elderly monk became abbot of his monastery. Realizing that for centuries his order had been making copies of copies, he decided to examine some of the monastery’s original documents. Days later, the other monks found him in the cellar, weeping over a crumbling manuscript and moaning, “It says ‘celebrate,’ not ‘celibate!’


 Ah, regret…I think we can all relate!

Recently I was with a group of my childhood girlfriends.  We were reminiscing and the subject of regrets came up – “I wish I would have opened that yoga studio all those years ago!” “Why did I invest in that property? that investment?”  “I should have travelled more when I had the chance.” “Why did I stay at that job so long?” “What if I’d married ______? –  my life would be so different now.”

There we were – reliving old mistakes and fantasizing about how differently we would do things if we had the chance to do them over again. The “should-a, could-a, would-a’s” of life.

But as author Elizabeth Gilbert writes “Sometimes we can even spend days or years obsessively recreating old conversations and encounters in our imaginations in order to try to manipulate the scenario into having a totally different outcome! The fact that this activity is both irrational and a waste of time has never stopped me from doing it.  Just because you can’t bargain with the past doesn’t make me give up trying.”

So, what does one do when, in the middle of the night, these scenarios flood your thoughts and make you second-guess decisions you made long ago?  Or worse, immobilize you from moving forward in case you might regret the next step?

Elizabeth’s article contains an interesting piece of information that might help you be more compassionate to yourself in this situation – the idea is this:  Try to keep in mind that every decision you ever made came from an earnest desire for self-preservation.  Even if the outcome was complete self-destruction, that was not the intent of the person who launched herself in that scenario however many years ago.”

Author Martha Beck also has some awesome insights and steps to Stop Regretting Decisions.  My favorite is # 6 – Learn to Lean Loveward.

Here are two great articles I’m so happy to share.  I hope you get a chance to read them – you won’t regret it!

Martha Beck  –

Elizabeth Gilbert –




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