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the futility of regret and remorse danielle van de velde

The Futility of Regret and Remorse

I have been working with some clients recently on Regret and Remorse.

Some of us have a trigger-happy default to these two ugly cousins. And if we allow them to visit regularly or even move into our inner castle, they steal our presence, enslave us to the past and eventually, they make us sick…some pretty big side effects from two emotional states that are based on smoke and mirrors!

Regret and Remorse cannot exist without our attention. That’s right! As real and intense as Regret and Remorse feel, they are ultimately subjective and they are emotional reactions to what we believe ‘could’ or ‘should’ have been, or something we ‘could have’ or ‘should have’ done. They are distinctly pegged to the past, which no longer exists and moreover, what we feel ‘could have’ or ‘should have’ been done better at any point in time, is also an entirely subjective perception based on assumptions about unknowable outcomes.

Yet, so many of us default to Regret and Remorse and feed them with our attention long after the situation or event has slipped into the unreal realm of the past.

With a lot of my clients that come for energy healing and mentoring, this default to Regret and Remorse is very often linked to a childhood where shaming (even if well intended) was an aspect of how they were raised. Growing up with being shamed, translates into a tendency to shame ourselves, even if there is no clear link between our behaviour and the outcomes. Shame opens the door to Regret and Remorse in adult life, and invites them into our inner world, in all their sticky ugliness.

the futility of regret and remorse image 1 danielle van de velde

The most common candidates, whom I work with, for Regret and Remorse, are the mums. It’s very natural as a mum to constantly assess your behaviours and decisions, especially when your children are involved. Yet, in my observation, taking responsibility for our actions and shaming our actions tend to get entangled with many people. The truth is that all we can do, when making any decisions, is to do our best with what we’ve got, and to go with what feels right, at that time. We can’t possibly know what the outcomes would be if we had made different choices. None of us can. Torturing ourselves on a set of possible scenarios that aren’t real…is just taking us away from being present with ‘what is’ in the now and the learning and transformation being offered.

the futility of regret and remorse image 2 danielle van de velde

A far more empowering move, which is also fabulous role modelling for our significant others, is to own our actions, apologise if we have unconsciously caused pain, commit to change and move forward.

Regret and Remorse are dense, unhelpful emotions and if they are a well-laid default pattern of self-shaming, sometimes intentionally cultivating a new perspective and approach is required. Some of the key homework I prescribe to clients is: 

Establish a regular meditation practice

Regular meditation carves out a ‘pause point’ between the trigger event and how we respond. This allows us to witness reactive self-shaming and choose differently.

Intentional gratitude cultivation

Gratitude pegs the awareness into the blessings available in situations and the good in others. When we intentionally cultivate gratitude, it soon becomes part of our operating system generally.

Random acts of kindness

Altruism moves our awareness up and out of the pit of Regret and Remorse and puts everything into perspective. This is best done through actions, and you can cultivate a kinder heart towards yourself and others through Brahmavihara Cultivation. 

Somatic release techniques

If Regret and Remorse are well entrenched, we feel them. They have a dense psychic weight and we often feel their energy patterns in our lower centres, like the stomach, lower back, legs and feet. Recognising them in the body can be hugely useful because we can also release them through the body, through practices like the Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping).

journaling image danielle van de velde


When we have an event that we replay over and over again and feed our Regret and Remorse patterns, creative journaling can be enormously powerful to rewire the pattern and help us choose differently if similar triggers occur again. Take some time with your journal to write out the scenario as it went down, and then create a different personal response and possible outcome that is in the highest good for all involved. Write with emotion and detail, so that you can ‘feel’ the new response. This will help you access it in live situations. 

Pranidhana Mudra

I am a huge advocate of hasta (hand) mudras. They are accessible and effective forms of changing resonances in the energy body. Pranidhana Mudra is specifically engaged to release attachments. It works with the base chakra and engenders a feeling of ‘letting go’ within the mind, body and emotions, allowing us to release Regret and Remorse back to their realm of illusions, cutting them off from our attention and lifeforce.

pranidhana mudra image danielle van de velde

Life is too short to weigh ourselves down with Regret and Remorse. The real game is in the transformation and liberation of our spirits, to be present with ourselves and the ones we love, to live life to the full, to fully BE. Let’s kick these ugly cousins to the curb!

If you are looking to join groups, retreats or circles with like-spirited people, do get in touch or go to for current offerings. You can also explore courses and useful content on the website to guide you on your path to healing, self-discovery and mindful living. If you would like to explore more about a spirited life, my book, ‘Spirited – A guide to your innate spiritual design to transform your life’, is now available. See stockists here

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