Regret Leads to Fantasy, Which Leads to Ruin

I don’t believe we can attract or manifest success or wealth with positive thinking, but I do believe it’s possible to sabotage our success with negative emotions. To be clear, we could still make a lot of money, get a big house, drive expensive cars, so on and so forth, being completely and totally driven by negative emotions and destructive ambition. Plenty of ‘successful’ people have never dealt with their sh*t, and are successful precisely because they are selfish, manipulative, and greedy. 

You don’t have to have a healthy relationship with money, or other humans, to attract people to you who are willing to give you all their money. But that’s not what I’m after, and not what I consider “success”. 

Anyhow, most of us don’t have the charisma to be a**holes and still get people to want to do business with us.

So most of us do need to deal with our negative emotions surrounding money and success if we ever want to have any of it. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, we need to become driven by positive emotions, rather than negative emotions, if we ever hope to be happy when we get the things we think we want. (Of course then we may not care too much about those things anymore.)

In the last year I’ve been learning to deal with regret

If you’ve read my last two blog posts, you’ll know I’ve tried a lot of things to make money online, and none of them have worked out … yet. I haven’t given up on everything, but many of those things can be called failures. I regret the time and money I spent on most of those things. 

But wait there’s more. I’m not going to list all the things in my life I regret. But I’ll tell you the big one. Bitcoin – I knew about it by at least 2009. I seriously considered buying it when it was about $20 a coin. I tried to buy some when it was around $300, but couldn’t figure it out – but let’s just say I didn’t try very hard to figure it out. 

Nothing compares to that regret.

So now what – what’s the point of this post

Regret will destroy my future if I let it.

If I allow myself to be consumed with the emotions of regret, anger, frustration, self-pity – I will either get depressed and discouraged, which would lead me to giving up. Or it will lead me to creating fantastical dream scenarios about how someday I’ll overcome my misfortune and become super successful. 

Fantastical delusional dreams lead to ruin

If we allow ourselves to be driven by delusion we will make irrational decisions. We’ll chase after jackpots, taking wild risks, gambling on unrealistic dreams. We will not operate with the discipline to stick to one thing and see it through, because realistic opportunities won’t look good enough; they’ll never make up for the big score we missed out on. 

Intelligent business decisions will look boring. And when something doesn’t make us rich quick, we’ll quickly move on to the next thing that we think will.

If we’re always just trying to make up for our regrets – to make up for the big wins we missed, and make up for the big failures that make us feel stupid – we’re going to chase after fantasies that won’t pan out. 

Well, I must be honest, 1 in 300 million of us will win the lottery. So I guess I can’t say it will never work out for any of us. But if you know anything about how most of those people’s lives turn out, your chances of winning the lottery and it not actually ruining your life are even worse odds. 

If we want to be successful and happy we have to stop being driven by negative emotions like regret

How do we do this? One thing we can do is learn from our mistakes AND learn to appreciate the things we regret. An exercise that can help with this is to make a list of how our “mistake” served and helped us; what did we learn; how can we apply that wisdom to our current situation. 

Instead of just reacting to the anger, frustration, embarrassment – quick how can I fix this and stop feeling bad about myself and my situation as quickly as possible so I can feel better about myself? 

The first thing you have to learn is that you couldn’t have done anything different. You were who you were at that time, with your limited knowledge (unable to tell the future), your abilities, your character, your values – all of these things lead to the choices you made. 

You also have to remember you have no idea how different your life would be if you got what you wanted, and what you might have lost.

When we react to our regrets by creating fantastical delusional dreams to soothe our disappointment we will likely get caught up with dreams we have no chance of accomplishing. Ironically anything we do accomplish will pale in comparison to our fantasies leaving us always wanting more.

When we are driven by positive emotions we will have the clarity to set realistic and achievable goals – which when achieved we are able to appreciate.

I’m talking to myself just as much as anyone else here, it’s a continual battle. The important thing is to recognize when we are allowing ourselves to wallow in negative thoughts.

We have to be aware of the emotions that are driving us, so we can recognize when they are leading us to make self-sabotaging decisions. Therefore it’s important to have practices that help us deal with these emotions, keeping them in check, and encouraging positive emotions that lead to success. 

What practices do you have that help you? Let me know in the comments.

Please follow and like us:


11 responses to “Regret Leads to Fantasy, Which Leads to Ruin”

  1. Very insightful. It’s A Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies. The backstory about Jimmy Stewart and his anger in the movie is amazing. Every once in a while my mind deceives me and reminds me of something I did or didn’t do and regret it now. You’re so right that we cannot change the past and thus we must focus on the present as we learn from the past. Life is like a car windshield – the rearview mirror is small because should not be focused on what is behind us (our past), and the front windshield is huge because we are focused on what is in front of us and up ahead (the present and future). We need to have dreams and goals, but also be realistic. I enjoyed your post and referencing It’s A Wonderful Life was brilliant.

  2. Everything happens for a reason and it’s meant to serve us. Things don’t happen to us, they happen for us. We succeed or we learn. Lots of cliches, I know, but it’s true that what we focus on is what we feel. Sometimes just remembering that I won the genetic lottery – one in 3 hundred million sperm finding a single egg, is a miracle enough for me : )

  3. Meditate several times a day and walk and do some other forms of exercise. I am vigilant against negativity, although I feel it when it arises! We all want to be free!!

  4. Hi Nathan,
    I think that while it’s true that our past decisions were made with the knowledge and abilities we had at the time, and we couldn’t have done anything differently, this doesn’t limit our potential for growth. Instead, it highlights the importance of self-compassion and learning from our experiences. We couldn’t foresee the future then, just as we can’t now, but every experience enriches us and prepares us for better decisions ahead. Embracing this mindset allows us to honor our past while continuously striving to grow and improve. I wish you all the best In your journey.

  5. This is such a refreshing take! I completely agree that success isn’t just about wealth or possessions. While it’s true that some people achieve “success” through negative means, it’s not sustainable or fulfilling in the long run.

    Dealing with negative emotions and fostering positive motivations are crucial for true happiness and success. It’s inspiring to hear about your journey in handling regret and working towards a healthier mindset. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  6. Hi, Nathan!
    I like how you used George to illustrate your point. Because he regretted so much in life, he had a hard time appreciating what he had.
    We must let go of regret to be happy in the present and act to make our dreams come true.
    I will have to consider if I have any regrets holding me back.
    Thanks for the thought,

  7. Hi Nathan,

    One of my practices is to go for a walk.

    It may be important to be able to talk with someone should you need advice.

    When we are relaxed, we make important choices & decisions.

    1. Walking is good, I like to garden to de-stress

  8. Nathan, I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Your insights on negative emotions sabotaging success are spot on. I agree that being driven by positive emotions is key to achieving true happiness and success. Keep sharing your wisdom and experiences—it’s truly inspiring, thanks Atif

  9. I can relate to what you’re saying. One can learn from one’s mistakes and in the words of the song by Edith Piaf, “Non, je ne regrette rien”. (No, I regret nothing). As long as you learn from your regrets.

    1. I love the song.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

Follow by Email