People who regret their life choices but won’t admit it usually display these 9 behaviors

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Regret never feels good, yet it’s a widely experienced emotion.

One study found that as many as one in four of us come to regret our life choices.

Perhaps in some ways, they are the lucky ones.

Because at least when we can reflect with hindsight, we can still make positive changes in the future.

This is probably why research has shown how regrets can end up helping us to make better decisions.

As the saying goes, “We live, we learn”.

So in many ways, embracing your regrets frees you up to choose another path. First though, we must make peace with them.

But people who deny their regrets keep themselves stuck, and that can show through in their behavior.

1) They’re judgemental towards others

It’s actually a psychological form of projection.

Often when we’re really hard on others, deep down we’re hard on ourselves too.

It can make us feel temporarily better to point the finger elsewhere.

By making unkind judgments or gossiping about what other people are getting up to, what we’re saying to ourselves is:

“Look, they’re not perfect either”.

That can make you feel better about yourself.

To a fragile ego that is worried it may have gotten some things wrong in life, this gives it a little boost.

The more we feel secure in our own life choices, the less we feel the need to judge or interfere with other people’s.

2) They are afraid of change

…And so everything stays pretty much the same in their life.

Change is a natural and inevitable part of progression.

We cannot grow without it.

But people who are afraid to own their regret end up becoming paralysed by it, and so are incredibly risk-averse.

So much so that they would rather hold on to things that aren’t working for them than face up to the facts, as explained by Professor Eyal Winter in The Conversation.

“For example, many people hang on to relationships that they well know are going nowhere. A botched relationship that lacks love or passion can therefore still survive due to the inconvenience of terminating it. Ending such a relationship ultimately forces us to admit a failure and experience regret. To avoid regret we instead tell ourselves that as we have come this far with the relationship we should give it another chance – despite knowing there hardly is any hope.”

When we’re so worried about making the wrong choices, yet we cannot admit it, we may try to avoid decision-making altogether.

3) They seem defeatist

Sometimes when people regret their life choices, they act like it’s all over.

Whilst it’s true that the past is gone, that doesn’t mean that life choices are set in stone.

Yet they may talk as though:

They’ve been alone for too long now to ever find love.

They’re too old to change careers.

They’re too set in their ways to do things differently.

They have convinced themselves there is a fast-approaching expiration date, so what’s the point anymore?! 

They may act as though their attitude is born out of acceptance that things are the way they are.

But that’s not what it is.

Because with acceptance comes peace.

Yet deep down they are not contented or comfortable with the way their life currently looks.

They just don’t believe they can’t do a lot about it.

So instead of taking positive action, they’re more inclined to go looking for reasons to justify their negativity bias.  

4) They make excuses

It’s hard to admit that we have full responsibility for ourselves. Especially when it comes to the things we may regret.

Because that means confronting emotions like disappointment, guilt, sadness, or even shame around some of the choices we may have made.

A way to avoid this is by dodging accountability as much as possible.

Rather than accept that we wish we’d made some different decisions, we can grasp onto excuses.

It’s important to point out that excuses are not the same as reasons. Because we all have our reasons for doing something.

But when they turn into excuses we can fall easily into victimhood.

The subtle difference is this brings with it a mentality that argues “it’s not my fault” and “there’s nothing I can do about it”.

Rather than rolling up your sleeves to make changes, you get dragged down by a pessimistic outlook.

5) They’re bitter

Bitterness is born out of resentment.

It signals that someone has never really come to terms with certain things that have happened in life, and so it can go hand in hand with regret.

It’s that feeling of “Why me?!” Or “It’s not fair”.

People who feel regret yet keep it hidden can internalize this disappointment. As it festers it can cause a depressed state and a fixed mindset.

When someone is bitter, they often complain and moan habitually. They may seem angry all the time.

Their negative state of mind traps them in victimhood yet they may not be able to see this.

6) They hide in distractions

Regret shows up in different ways for different people. Especially when someone is in denial about it.

People can get very good at hiding from their true feelings. They find defense mechanisms to shield them from the truth.

A common one is finding as many distractions as possible.

That may mean that they:

  • Try to keep constantly busy
  • Throw themselves headfirst into family life, work life, or hobbies and interests
  • Look to escape into pleasant distractions like shopping, keeping fit, social media, and TV

It can also involve hiding in more destructive habits too.

People who live with unexpressed regret that they cannot speak about may turn to alcohol, drugs, or overeating as an emotional hiding place.

7) They compare themselves to others

We can all fall into this trap, regardless of how we feel about our own lives.

It’s easy to start thinking the grass is greener on the other side. When we do, we stop paying attention to all the things we already have going for us.

A good dose of gratitude can be helpful to bring our attention back to ourselves and the present moment.

But those who worry they’ve made the wrong choices in life are much more prone to comparing themselves to other people.

They constantly worry about how they measure up.

They are really hard on themselves when they think that other people are doing better than they are.

Which can lead to the next thing on our list…

8) They’re jealous when good things happen to other people

Whenever we feel envious of someone else it speaks volumes:

We may feel like we’re missing something in our own life.

When you are genuinely content with what you have, you don’t begrudge others for their happiness or success.

This desire to rain on other people’s parade comes from someone’s own insecurities and fears.

9) They often talk about “If only”

There is nothing we can do about the past.

We all know that.

The truth is that every step we take leads us, for good and for bad, to where we are today.

But we have to keep on walking.

When someone frequently talks about missed chances and opportunities that could have been, it’s clear they believe their best days are behind them.

They are no longer forward-facing.

They may not even realize this.

But with every “what if” that they indulge in, they are keeping themselves trapped in hypothetical scenarios.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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