This might sound weird, but regret is a surprisingly helpful feeling. It helps us control emotions trauma brings up, preventing us from ending up in a crisis.
But…it definitely doesn’t feel pleasant, right? So how could it possibly be helpful? How can regret, an emotion that often speaks to us with self-hatred, be beneficial?
And yes, I am talking about that regret that tells you “You shouldn’t have dressed that way” or “you shouldn’t have dated him.” Us survivors of abuse tend to have a lot of these, as we often blame ourselves for what happened. That’s why I wrote this blog—to free you from this painful emotion.
How Regret is an Emotional Protector
Regret helps you control your emotions before they become too overwhelmingly strong.
All emotions exist in us for a reason, regret included. It may not seem like it could have any helpful role at first, but when you look deeper, it’s easy to see just how essential this feeling is for surviving trauma.
Basically, if we regret something, we turn the blame towards ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re the reason we were abused. This convinces us that, if we can change who we are, we can effectively stop the trauma.
Regret, quite literally, makes us believe we have control during a situation we feel powerless in, like abuse. Let me use a few examples to explain this.
Examples of How Regret Helps Us Control Emotions
Let’s say you were sexually assaulted. You might regret going to that party and getting drunk. Obviously, some of that regret comes from victim blaming (since society itself will likely blame you). But…you also feel that regret because it helps you believe “If I don’t go to parties or get drunk, I’ll never be assaulted again.” Regret makes you believe you can avoid all future trauma.
Here’s another example:
If you were an abused child who constantly felt “I should have just been a better child,” you’re experiencing regret. This feeling came up because it was trying to make you believe you could stop the abuse, by changing who you were as a person. It was too difficult to believe your parents were abusing you because they were bad people—so you turned the blame towards yourself.
Blaming yourself makes you believe you have some control over what happened.
How to Use This Knowledge to Heal Regret
Even though regret tries to help us by giving us a sense of control, it accidentally does damage too. It’s definitely not a feeling we want to live with for years—as it very easily turns into self-hatred. Over time, regret actually makes it harder to control your emotions.
You heal regret by answering the question “What am I afraid to recognize I can’t control?”
Regret forms to prevent us from facing the truth we were once powerless. It could be “My parents maliciously chose to abuse me.” Or “anyone can be assaulted, even if they aren’t at a party drunk.” Or “living my authentic life means more people will criticize me.”
You can have regrets about any situation that was out of your control.
Recognizing this can be frightening, but it’s also liberating. It will free you from the burden of regret.
Remember this too: regret doesn’t actually give you control over a situation. It’s an illusion. It makes you believe you have control over something that you don’t.
This means it’s always healing to work through regret. Healing it doesn’t make you powerless. It simply makes you more aware of the reality that you can’t control everything that happens to you.
Regret helped you in the past, but it’s no longer needed. It’s time to free yourself from this heavy emotion.
Liberate Yourself from the Burden of Regret
Wish you could fully release regret and control your emotions? Want to feel safe with the fact you can’t completely control your future? Ready to no longer deal with regret every day?
You’ll get all this emotional freedom once you join The Prosperity Path program.
This 6-module eCourse has a whole section on conquering regret. You’ll be able to replace it with more healing, self-loving feelings. (This content is in the very first module, too!)
It’s a wonderful thing to heal these feelings of regret. So whether or not you plan on joining, take some time to reflect on this question:
“What is one thing I’m afraid to admit I can’t control?”
Comment below with your answer! This will help you control your emotions, especially those driven by trauma. It’s a safe space to think about it and share it with a community of other survivors. <3