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Human Performance Blog


There's a familiar feeling and string of thoughts that can haunt us.

'I wish I did'...'I wish I didn't...' or 'I could've'...'I should've...'

The feeling associated with those thoughts is called Regret.

Well meaning bystanders and friends will try to help by providing support like, 'Be positive', 'it'll all be ok',or 'don't be so hard on yourself'. These are graciously received, however if you have ever started a sentence with 'I wish I did', or 'I should've known', you know that regret and shame is more persistent than hope and optimism.

What is even more interesting about regret and shame is that it can occur after just about everything. Although commonly associated with a failure or loss, it can even be found in the recesses of success and victory.

The nature of regret is that it feeds on anxiety and/or perfectionism. This usually affects performers and high performers in such a way that they believe that they are not good enough, despite gains and successes in performance. This is a symptom of the Imposter Syndrome which can be fleeting or persistent. There is always more, or always an easier way, or always something else they could've done better.

Whats wrong with that approach? - Always wanting to adapt and be better?

It is the sought after rose of high performance traits. The rose though, comes with thorns and consequences if not handled properly.

Tackling regret can be tricky. The following questions can help identify regret. Using an acronym that commonly describes a type of regret, lets create the strategy to resolve it.

FOMO; the fear of missing out, is a common way of expressing regret.


Feel it

Do you really have no regrets?

Regret is a common emotion, and we are built to psychologically cope with it. When it is ignored however it can emerge as self-sabotage and self deception making achieving more elusive.

Open up

Do you approach similar situations with fear?

The common response to regret and shame is avoidance or hesitance. Sometimes regret is camouflaged anxiety making you hyper sensitive to repeating a perceived (may not be real) failure.

Mind hack

Do your patterns of behavior make it easier or harder?

Once the thoughts have been identified, making small changes to slowly retrain your habits and behaviors will help minimize the potential/percentage of regret. Tip: Avoid 'all or nothing' thinking or statements like 'ill never do that again'. Regrets will happen.

Own it

Did you really play no role with what happened?

The safe response is to take the locus of control when things go wrong outside of you. It is a self preservation tactic, and useful only if not abused. Admitting responsibility, apologizing to others and to yourself...and meaning it can be powerful.

Regret isn't easy to shake, and can reduce performance efforts and outcomes if not reigned in and controlled.

Want to learn more about FOMO, JOMO and dealing with Regrets?


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