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Is regretting your past decisions helpful or useless self-torture?

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I am haunted by a specific regret.

Twenty years ago, I made a decision that changed everything.

Twenty years ago, I moved to Australia.

And twenty years ago, I left my three beloved cats behind. Dropped them off at a shelter.

Twenty years is the time I have spent dodging that memory, the guilt, and the sorrow.

But more recently, unexpectedly, it has come back in a way I can’t avoid.

A woman nestles a sleeping kitten in her palm and smiles.
The stray cat I looked after had brought her litter of three kittens home to me.(

ABC Everyday: Neelima Choahan

)

So what are we to do with regrets? Are they useful at all or just an unhelpful form of self-torture?

What is regret?

Regret, clinical psychologist Tamara Cavenett says, is like grief.

“Grief is the expectation between what you thought things would be and…



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