More threads by Cat Dancer

I should have done something yesterday that I didn't do and I'm upset about it. Nothing I can do about it now, but how do I stop beating myself up?

Daniel E.
Personally, I use the intellectual/cognitive approach, and I think this is compatible with CBT. From a scientific perspective, our sense of "free will" is more illusion than anything else. Certainly, we make choices, but each mind runs on a faulty (or at least imperfect) 3-pound brain.

I also use the Buddhist/naturalist philosophy that there is no separate self. If you blame someone for something, you might as well blame the sun and the moon since everything in Nature is interconnected.

Also, most of what we define as "bad" or "good" behavior is socially constructed or is quite limited in scope.

The Art of Detachment

We spend far too much time and effort trying to control things we can't. When we're in a stressful situation and feeling upset, we need to ask ourselves two questions: How much does this really matter in the context of my life, and what can I realistically do about it? We can find that many things that worry us are really unimportant; we've just gotten caught up in emotional contagion and lost our bearings. We may find that we're trying to change things that we realistically cannot change. If that's the case, the wiser course is to accept the inevitable.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." This is the AA serenity prayer. It could serve as well as a mantra for all of us who need more fulfillment in our lives. Detachment and serenity are not easy to achieve. They are goals that we must strive for through mental discipline. We have to learn to stop ourselves, to halt the adrenaline rush that makes us feel that there is a crisis we have to take care of right now. This is where a support group can be most helpful. People who know us well can help us learn ourselves.

We're on a roller coaster. The ride will take us up and down, spin us around and scare us and thrill us. We don't have any steering or brakes and we can't get out. We're better off to look around and enjoy the experience, because we don't get a second ride.


i am going to have to disagree with daniel. i believe people have free will--complete free will. i also believe there are absolute moral rights/wrongs.

as a result, you must take responsibility for your actions (what you haven't done as well as what you've done). then you must resolve to change those actions in the future and make a plan to change them. finally, realize that guilt can only hold you back from becoming the person you want to be, or at the very least, from behaving and acting as you desire.

you can't change what you've done, but you can change what you will do. guilt should lead you in the right direction, not away from it.

Daniel E.
Often, the problem is that many people with depression, anxiety, etc. are more morally sensitive than others. They will often beat themselves up for every little mistake. Feeling a lingering sense of guilt for minor mistakes is often due to depression, lack of self-esteem, etc.

What also helps me with regrets (woulda/shoulda/coulda) is just trying to stay busy with work and chores.

Regardless of "free will," I agree about responsibility (response-ability). For example, if a friend of mine got arrested for drug possession, I wouldn't pay his bail since that would only make it easier for him to get high again.

Would'a, should'a, could'a done this and that
Don't wanna live life with another regret
Would'a, should'a, could'a made another choice
I can see more the older I get
Would'a, should'a, could'a said something more
But it's too late - there's a knock at the door
Would'a, should'a, could'a won't change a thing
The here and now is waiting


I want to live my life not only thinking of the past
The future tells me that my life has not been cast
I want to say "I will, I did" instead of could or should
Gonna believe in the promise "It's all good"

--some lyrics from "Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda" by Bob Hartman and Greg Bailey
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Daniel E.
A comment and joke on the subject of regret and criticism by President Bush during his last press conference:

The other thing, it turns out, in this job you've got a lot on your plate on a regular basis, you don't have much time to sit around and wander, lonely, in the Oval Office, kind of asking different portraits, how do you think my standing will be? (Laughter.) I've got a lot to do. And I like to make decisions, and I make a lot of them.

Briefing Room | The White House


I look at it this way: Whatever mistakes I made yesterday, or last week, or ten years ago were not made by the person I am today. I learned from those mistakes and the learning changed me. That's what keeps me from beating myself up over past misjudgements. I am not the same person today that I was then. :eek:)

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Following on that theme, one of the things I tell parents of teens all the times (when I'm trying to help them step back a little and let their teen beome more independent) is that the way any of us learns to make good decisions is by making a few bad ones and watching what happens...

or as ThatLady's signature says, "The only people who never make mistakes are those who aren't doing anything."


I couldn't agree more, Dr. Baxter. My uncle is a perfect example of someone who never really grew up because he wasn't given the opportunity. Someone was always there to bail him out when he messed up his life. As a result, he never learned to stop and analyze his actions before he gave in to impulse. He's never made much of himself, and at the ripe age of 57 is still running to mommy for money when he gets himself in a hole. I've managed to intercede, to a degree, but have never been able to completely mitigate this dependence. It's sad to watch.
You've all made good points. I can't do anything about it now.

It was actually a good thing. I don't let myself have good things or fun or good times because I don't feel I deserve them. And then I feel sad about it.


Well, then, Janet. Since this was a good thing, and you enjoyed it, let's start looking at it a bit differently. Let's look at it as a good decision instead of a mistake. I think I like that a lot better, and I know you will! :eek:)
I didn't do the good thing though. I do this a lot. Something good comes along and I just, I don't know how to describe it, run away from it, shrug my shoulders and let it pass by. I've given up all the things I love to do and I don't know how to get back into doing them. I don't make any sense. LOL.


Member you allowed yourself to talk yourself out of doing a good, fun thing because you think you don't deserve good, fun things. Funny how perceptions differ. I think you deserve all the good, fun things you can round up!

Next time something like this comes up, do it for me! ;o)
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