HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH REGRET?

John Pearson ‏@JohnPearson555: How do you get past regret ? I can’t get past this and have been wasting more compounding months and months.

Answer:

When the web first started I quickly became comfortable with all the programming tools available to make websites. I had the tools in front of me to program many different things: a search engine, a directory of my favorite links, a way to post reviews of places, a way to post gossip about other people, and so on. Also domain name registration was free at the time. “sex.com” was available as a domain at the time. The guy in the office next door to mine created lycos.com, one of the first billion dollar search engines (actually, the first). Another guy down the hall built goto.com. Another guy built Wisewire, which he later sold to Lycos for $50 million. What did I do? I played chess all day on the Internet. I put some of my short stories on a little website. Blech! I had such a head start. There was a grand total of maybe 50 websites at the time, spread out over four or five universities. “I could’ve been a contender”.

What a thing to regret. At the beginning of an entire revolution and was I a revolutionary? No, I did nothing. I was useless. Every now and then I still think about it. 1993. 1994. What was I thinking?

Regret is hard. It’s a form of time travel. You try to start something right now, in the only moment that counts, and yet your mind is propelled back into the past, into the things that you did that are long gone, that should have no impact on how you do things now and yet they do. They are constantly pulling you down into the morass, into the tears, into the fears that you never will do anything good again.

Use the past to help you plan the future. Use the past to help you live better right now. But once you dive into self-criticism, doubt, regret you have begun to time travel. You are living in the past. This is bad. When you catch yourself doing it you have to pull yourself back into the present. It’s a practice. Start doing it today.

One important way to deal with regret is to put it on the shelf. Say, “I’m going to think about you later but first I have to deal with RIGHT NOW. But thank you very much for showing up. Have a tea while you wait.”

Fortunately I also wrote about this very issue:

20 ways to deal with regrets

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