Remember the old saying about hindsight being 20/20? You can think of countless things you wished you’d said or done after the fact. How can writing in a journal be a tool to help you let go of these regrets?

Nobody goes through life completely satisfied with all their actions and decisions. Even the most upstanding folks feel a tinge of guilt as they reflect. It’s a human condition that’s a combination of anger, fear, guilt, and grief.

Regrets can fall under two categories: commission or omission. The first type is the words, actions, and decisions you regret committing. Secondly are those regrets for things you didn’t do or omitted.

Either way, you kick yourself mentally, emotionally, and psychologically for these regrets. You’re so busy ruminating on the past that you’re not living in the present. Therefore, you accumulate more regrets and guilt in an endless whirlpool of negativity.

Writing in a Journal Helps You Release These Twelve Regrets

Regretful statements often start with “if only” and “what if.” Not only are these words unhelpful, but they create a toxic mindset. You waste precious time by trying to recapture events from yesterday.

writing in a journal

Although the author is unknown, the person who penned the Serenity Prayer was a spiritual genius. You’ll discover more clarity when you can tell the difference between things you can change and those you can’t alter. Keeping your thoughts in a journal can start the process.

Are you tired of allowing the past to dictate your present and future? You may not have the ability to change the past, but you can do something today. These are twelve common regrets and how writing in a journal may help you get past them.

1. Not Spending Enough Time with Loved Ones

You can’t blame yourself because you must work for a living. It’s the only way you can provide for your family. Also, you have other responsibilities that take your time. However, you may have deep regrets for not spending enough time with family and friends.

Writing in a journal can help you validate working and other responsibilities. Perhaps you’re harder on yourself than you realize. If you didn’t spend enough quality time with loved ones, you can apologize and learn to make more time in the future.

2. Let Go of Regrets Over Not Being More Honest with Yourself by Writing in a Journal

People can often have negative self-talk for so long that they believe it as fact. You can accrue years of remorse and regret when you’re not honest with yourself. You’ll always feel like something is missing in your life.

You are as unique as your fingerprints, and those don’t change. Writing in a journal can help you realize who you are and how you can be yourself. If you’ve done something wrong, own your mistakes and work to make amends.

3. Not Living Your Own Life

What did you want to be when you grew up? Little kids will often dream of becoming astronauts, zookeepers, or superheroes. Possibly you wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, artist, or rock star. Even when you were in college, you may have changed your major several times.

Perhaps you gave in to pressures from your parents to go into a profession they wanted for you. In fact, your goals may have been vastly different, and now your life doesn’t feel fulfilled. You may have forgotten about your past aspirations until writing in a journal.

If you’re unhappy with your current situation, it’s never too late to change. What could you do to get closer to your ideal career?

4. Taking Yourself too Seriously Can Harm Your Mental Health, Release it by Writing in a Journal

According to an article published by PsychCentral, you can take yourself too seriously when you focus on negativity. You begin defining yourself by the unfortunate things that happened in your past. Consequently, you use these as a jaded lens for viewing your present and future.

When writing in a journal, you may get a different perspective. Seeing your blessings outweighs your troubles, and it can make you rethink your life. You can learn to let go of the past and not take every little thing so seriously.

5. Taking Too Few Risks

Much can be said about staying on the safe side. Maybe your family taught you that you’re better safe than sorry, so you try to avoid risks. Unfortunately, you may have past regrets for not stepping out of your comfort zone.

Since you don’t want to have any more of these regrets, you may develop a fear of it. A study published by the World Journal of Clinical Classes discusses this fear of missing out. Although the term initially concerned social media, it can affect other areas of your life.

When writing in a journal, do you mention your regrets and not taking enough risks? Life itself is a risk, and you never know an outcome until you try. Journaling can help you pinpoint some of your fears and how you can risk more for success.

6. Not Speaking Up for Yourself

How many times has someone hurt or taken you for granted? Unfortunately, people can be heartless at times. Maybe you’ve replayed the events hundreds of times in your mind with things you wished you’d said or done. These regrets can be exceedingly hurtful and damaging to your self-esteem.

While you’re writing in your journal, consider making a list of hurts that are still on your mind. Then, make another list of how and why you won’t let others trample on you anymore. Emphasize that you are beautiful, intelligent, and worthy of respect and love.

writing in a journal

7. Staying in a Toxic Relationship

Even the most assertive individuals can get trapped in a toxic relationship. Such relationships make you feel hurt, vulnerable, and afraid. Surviving abuse often leaves you skeptical of people and unsure of any new relationship.

First, realize that you deserved better, and the abuse wasn’t your fault. What are some qualities that you want in a loving, healthy relationship? Jot these down in your journal and believe that you will find just what you want.

8. Worrying too Much

Worrying is one of the strangest pastimes of the human experience. You can fret and imagine the worst-case scenario, yet it does nothing to change anything. All worrying increases your anxiety and prevents you from doing something about the problem.

Consider keeping a section in your journal about your worries. Write each one down and why they are so crucial. Allow yourself about 20 minutes to worry about them, and then let them go.

Try to do this every day to free your mind from excessive anxiety. You’ll also have more time to gain a new perspective on these issues. Soon, you’ll realize what a waste of time worrying is.

9. Worked a Little Less and Have More Fun

In the twilight of their lives, nobody ever wishes they had spent more time at work. Instead, most regret not being a little carefree and enjoying their life. It’s essential to realize that although your job is part of your life, it’s not who you are.

Don’t wait until after you’ve devoted your best years and abilities. Do some brainstorming in your journal and list some fun things you want to do. Spend time each day doing things that make you relax, smile, and revive your spirit.

10. Writing in a Journal Helps Release Regret You Didn’t Learn More Skills

Do you have regrets about not learning more skills and finding new talents? Instead of contemplating, it’s never too late to realize your dreams. Grandma Moses didn’t start painting her masterpieces until she was 77 years old, according to American Art.

What new skills and talents have you listed in your journal that you want to explore? Sure, you may not be another Leonardo DaVinci or Mozart, but you can learn to paint or play the piano. Whether learning a foreign language or spinning wool, don’t let regrets stop you from your aspirations.

11. Traveling Less Often

According to an article published by Forbes Magazine, at least 11 percent of Americans haven’t traveled outside of their birth state. Approximately 13 percent have never flown in an airplane, and 40 percent have never traveled abroad. However, at least 60 percent of Americans list places they want to see.

Consider making a list of your dream destinations. It can be to another state, or you can go on a cruise or visit a foreign country. Go beyond regrets and start saving for the trip of a lifetime.

12. Not Caring About What Others Think

It’s futile to make everyone approve of your opinions and decisions. You’ll end up running in circles and creating regrets. At the end of the day, you’re the only person who’s responsible for your happiness.

Journaling about your strengths and aspirations gives you a better understanding of where you’ve been and where you’re going. Those who love you will be supportive, even if they disagree with your choices. The opinions of your critics don’t matter, and you don’t live to please them.

writing in a journal

Final Thoughts on How Writing in a Journal Can Release Regrets

Everybody has past regrets that they can’t change. You have the power today to make decisions that you won’t regret in the future. Consider using a journal for inspiration and tracking your progress.