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How to Work Through Regret

Updated: Apr 28

This week, 'Therapy Begins with T(ea)' steeps on regret and offers a full body check-in to practice accessing our Self energy's curiosity and compassion.


Therapy Begins with T(ea) is a weekly newsletter based on the themes that come up in my sessions as a therapist who specializes in conflict & attachment in romantic relationships, shame & imposter syndrome, and our psychological relationships with money. Each week consists of a 'steep' in thought reflection, an accompanying body based check-in, and tea card intentions for the week to come. Its intended use is for educational purposes only and is not a replacement for individualized medical or mental health treatment.

'Steep' in Thought (3-5 min)


Lashing out. Not staying in touch more. Words said or left unsaid. Continuing a relationship past its expiration date. Stopping yourself from taking a chance. Ignoring your gut.

Regret is a sentiment of pain -- of disappointment & sadness about a behavior or decision that we made in the past. It sometimes feels like a missed opportunity or a longing to have made a different choice in life. Left unprocessed, regret can deepen further into shame (a feeling of worthlessness and disgrace towards ourself).

When we look back on past hurts and negative experiences, we don’t often account for the privilege of retrospection (ie. of knowing how the story ends) -- we judge ourselves for not acting differently, but we have to remember that we didn’t have all the context we have now when we made that decision. So how do we process grief about the past?

Regret & the Arc of Change

First, we get into our bodies so that we can process from a place of curiosity rather than censure or shame (this week’s full body check-in is a practice of getting into the body to access curiosity & compassion. You can use the audio guide or read it). With this curiosity, we can contextualize our regret within an ‘arc of change.’

The arc of change in any story or life experience goes like this: we believe and act one way until we are confronted with a (series of) truth(s). Once that truth is revealed to us, we do the work to adjust our beliefs and actions accordingly (i.e. change) or we continue trodding that same path and suffer. When reflecting with curiosity, we can ask ourselves what we wish we ‘would have known’ when we made that decision/action we regret and then we use retrospection to clarify when that was actually made known to us. Because it is only at that point of inflection and beyond that we can fairly hold ourselves accountable through regret.

So if you find yourself regretting something that you did before that changing truth was revealed to you, invite compassion. We can wish something could have gone differently without regretting it. And if, in your processing, you realize that your regret comes after that inflection point, also invite compassion. Reflect on what part of you interfered with listening to your gut. And then work on that part for future you. That’s true self-care.

Full Body Check-In (2-4 min)

Curious and Compassionate Breathing

Let’s get into our bodies.

We start with the breath. It’s one of the most direct ways we can help our bodies feel safe enough to turn on our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). In steadily through the nose, letting the body fill with air. And then slowly out the mouth through a relaxed sigh. Feel your body soften as you release the breath.

And go again. In slow, out slower.

As you inhale, feel your rib cage expand 360 degrees around. Notice how it feels on your sides and your back. And then exhale and observe how your ribcage comes back inward as you relax. As you repeat these cycles of breath, notice how your body adapts and adjusts.

Be curious.

It is when we feel safe and when our PNS is regulating us that we are able to access our Self energy. As you breathe, notice how you feel more grounded and present. More calm. And more curious too. It is only in this state of regulation that we can access these Cs of Self energy. Calm. Curious. Compassionate. Creative. Connected. Clear. If you‘re processing regret today, send an extra invitation towards Curiosity and Compassion.

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