How To Transform Regret Into Powerful Life Lessons

I was trying to squeeze too much into my day and said “yes” when I should have said, “not now.” I began feeling regret and anger with myself for missing out. Really, I made the wrong decision. We all know what that feels like. As we face our not-so-good decisions, can know how to transform regret into powerful life lessons.

Some folks say they intend to live with no regrets. And I think, really? Is that even possible?

I don’t believe we can live our entire lives without regrets.

No matter how intentional we are, we all experience regrets. Those of us who admit our regrets can become stuck in sadness with focused attention around helplessness. There’s nothing I can do about it now. Others ignore the regrets because the feelings are too painful.

Instead, it’s important to learn from regrets so we can make necessary changes.

With her care of people through hospice work, Bronnie Ware identified the five regrets of the dying. This list has been in my planner all year.

1. Have the courage to live life true to yourself and not what others expect.

Ancient literature reminds us of how universal fear is to our humanity. I highlighted several references of God’s message to Joshua in my Bible. Joshua was the one to champion the nation of Israel into the promised land. (Old Testament, book of Joshua) There’s several phrases of Be strong and of good courage along with more messages of Do not be afraid.

Notice that a pre-requisite for courage is fear. Let’s face it. We are all fearful at times. I believe fears (or any emotions we experience) are invitations to us from God to grow. Fear and courage are a necessary part of our growth.

2. Don’t work so hard.

We need to honor the God-given design of our bodies. Our brains need sleep, and our bodies need nutrition and exercise. Dr. Dan Seigel has a great diagram of our daily requirement for a healthy mind. Too many of us have stress-related health issues, and strained relationships due to overwork.

3. Express feelings.

Many of us don’t have words to describe how we feel. Or we may be constantly on the go and don’t notice our feelings. When we’re triggered in an instant, we fail to pause and explore what might really be going on. Instead, we medicate with social media or screen time.

4. Stay in touch with friends.

I fall short in this category and must admit I’d never been to any of my high-school reunions. Even though we have years of disconnect from former friends, it’s never too late to fill in that gap.

Not only is it healthy to nurture individual friendships, but it’s important to grow our marriages through couple friends. Recent research indicates friendships with other healthy couples increase happiness and partnership in marriage.

5. Let yourself be happy.

Some of us take ourselves way too seriously. When my husband meets new people, he usually asks, What do you do for fun? It’s amazing how many people just pause and are unsure how to answer. But it’s a great way to connect beyond our titles and what we do for a living. Somehow we learn a lot about a person when they share what they like doing for fun.


Remember, don’t let a powerful life lesson pass you by. Face regrets and take these five lessons to heart:

  • Be courageous and true to yourself
  • Relax from work
  • Express your feelings
  • Enjoy friendships
  • Be happy.

Tune in with “Relationships and Regret” 

Best Year Ever

When Your Best Year Ever Starts Out Wrong

Some of us are naturally optimistic when it comes to anticipating the New year. After all, it’s a blank slate except when your best year ever starts out wrong.

I drove two and a half hours to Nashville to meet 600 of my new best friends who also claim Michael Hyatt as their virtual mentor. It was the live event for his “Five Days To Your Best Year Ever” program. It’s actually cognitive therapy as we’re challenged to recognize limiting beliefs and begin to believe in possibilities for the New Year.

We gathered from around the world. I met an educator from South Korea and medical doctor from South Africa. Most were from across the United States with a potpourri of creative professions: artists, writers, musicians, financial planners, life coaches, professors, pastors, and ministry leaders. I was hoping to meet more than two other mental health counselors. It broadens our perspective to learn from those outside our professional disciplines. And the energy was contagious!

My seat was just a few feet from center stage to keep me from distractions. Right there in the third row smack dab in the middle. Our chairs were close and I connected with my beloved writing mentor, Jeff Goins.

It was the last day of the conference after a restless night at my Airbnb. Now wasn’t the time to get sick. I was counting on a jump start to my Best Year Ever. I was ready to put 2017 and all it’s discouragements behind. Struggling to find a box of tissues, I almost cried waking up with a stuffy head and runny nose. The dialogue in my mind went something like this:

Do I stay in bed until check out time?

Yes you can, but you’ll miss the most important part.

Do I just pack up and drive home?

Yes, but you’ll miss the energy and people you’ve met.

Oh well, just get ready and see how you feel. Take your time. Pack up. Decide later. . . .

My head got stuffier and my cough got hackier.

When your best year ever starts out wrong, there’s three impulses to avoid.

  1. Catastrophic thinking
  2. Cynical attitudes
  3. Stagnant feelings

Catastrophic thinking goes something like this:

All this money and time I’ve spent is now wasted. This will be the worst year ever. I’m never doing this again.

Cynical attitudes go something like this:

I knew this program wasn’t for me anyway. There’s nothing I can do about it now. It wouldn’t work for me even if I felt well.

Stagnant feelings of negativity and discouragement go something like this:

I might as well go home and forget about it. The people I met won’t remember me anyway. I won’t do this again.

It’s always helpful to take time to breathe deeply and tune into what your body needs rather than get caught up with those impulsive threats to our minds.

A time a meditation and prayer gave me the clarity to tune into what my body and mind needed. I chose to rest until check out, pack up, and drive to the nearest drug store for the best over-the-counter relief for my symptoms. I felt better. Determined not to shake hands or sit close to anyone, I returned to the conference.

Meditation and prayer gives clarity to tune into what the body and mind needs. Click To Tweet

I gave up my front seat and tuned in from a distance and made sure I stayed hydrated.

After returning home I cancelled other commitments to get the rest I needed. Still a bit behind on the year, it’s possible to get back to the momentum of anticipating the new year.

Although our expectations get derailed, we can still get back on track. When your best year ever starts out wrong, it’s possible to make it right. Take deep breaths. Stay away from the catastrophic thinking, cynical attitudes, and stagnant feelings. You can still make it your best year ever!

Make it your best year ever

Find out more about Professional Women’s focus Group to jump start your first 90 days. Join me and other prospects this Friday at 2:00 Eastern Time for a free webcam Q & A.


How Not To Be A Turkey On Thanksgiving Day


Some of us dread gathering with extended family on Thanksgiving Day. Rather than focus on gratitude and enjoying the meal, we end up feeling like roasted turkey. But it doesn’t have to be that way when we learn how not to be a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Holidays are strong reminders of the way things used to be. We gather with those who know our quirks, history, and points of irritation. Relationship patterns are so automatic that we don’t realize our part in creating the mess.

Even the anticipation can be stressful. We’re uncomfortable with reminders of loss. Divorce, death, or manipulative relationships can make the tradition of gratitude difficult for some and unbearable for others. We think thoughts like, I wished we could just skip these next six weeks.

Relationship patterns are so automatic that we don't realize our part in creating the mess. Click To Tweet

Thanksgiving can trigger our grief and negative thoughts. Emotional and mental energy depletes us from the warm fuzzies of gratitude.

Here are six practices you can do to make Thanksgiving a time of gratitude.

1. Practice adequate rest

Most of us disregard the basic foundation of our mental, emotional, and relational health. We push ourselves to make things just right to impress our guests. Our ability to handle stress is depleted without a consistent habit of seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Adequate cycles of sleep provide our brains the fresh charge of energy for clarity and awareness. Without proper sleep, we’re not able to cope well in stressful situations.

2. Practice deep belly breaths

Slow deep belly breaths help calm impulsive words and actions. It only takes ninety seconds of deep breathing to slow the fight/flight/freeze area of the brain that lights up when we’re triggered. We’re able to access rational thoughts when someone says a mean or hurtful comment. Ancient wisdom teaches us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. (New Testament – James 1:19)

Most people unintentionally harm others because of their own unhealed emotional wounds. With rest and deep breathing, you can control your reactions. You can stop your part of a charged incident.

Deep belly breaths give you ability to reason beyond reactivity. You create neuropathways in your brain that opens up awareness. You’ll be aware of your own body reactions. Emotional triggers affect both our bodies and our minds.

Quiet the racing thoughts and stories in your head that may not be true. Even if they are true, deep belly breaths slow you down enough to gain insight into yourself, the other person, and the incident.

Make it a point to process later through journal-writing or an appointment with your therapist. Your well-being depends on you keeping resentment from building.

Deep belly breaths give you ability to reason beyond reactivity. Click To Tweet

3. Practice your smile

We have mirror neurons in our brains that aid our social connections. When we interact with others, we reflect their gestures, tone, body posture, and behaviors. They reflect us. We smile back when they smile at us. It’s like looking in a mirror.

A smile has the power to disarm another’s frown. Some of us were born smiling while others naturally have stoic faces. A person who looks grumpy might really be concentrating. Or they may be unaware of how they appear to others. Be conscious of how others see you. Practice smiling around those who frown. See if their frown softens with your smile.

A smile has the power to disarm another's frown. Click To Tweet

4. Practice accepting change

Any change is difficult as we thrive on comfort and security. When our loved one has died, or we’ve experienced divorce, or we’ve moved our family across the country, it’s important to grieve. How we accept change is unique to each of us.

We are meant to grow and change throughout our lives. People, relationships, and circumstances are continually changing. Welcome the reality that our lives will never be stagnant. They’re not suppose to be. It’s part of our humanity to grieve the loss of a loved one and celebrate the birth of new life.

5. Practice what belongs to you

It’s important to know what’s yours and what belongs to another. Your emotions are yours alone. All of us are responsible for our own resilience, emotions, and decisions.

  • Avoid fighting another person’s emotional battles.
  • Let go of another person’s loneliness, anxiety, or uncomfortable feelings.
  • Recognize when others take on the victim role expecting you to be their savior.
  • Spend less time with those who drain you.

Give yourself permission to let go of others’ expectations of you. You were only meant to handle your own emotions. Others are responsible for themselves.

6. Practice the present moment

When you practice the present moment, you’re living that moment to it’s fullest capacity. This could be the single most empowering advice for us all. Hyperfocus on the unfinished business of the past or continuous worry of the future steals away the only time we have in the moment.

Imagine yourself standing still in the middle of a stream. You’re aware of the past like the water flowing toward you from upstream. You’re aware of the future like water flowing beyond you downstream. You feel the cool stream flow around you. Yet, you’re standing still in the present moment.

Don’t be the turkey

You now know how not to be a turkey on Thanksgiving. Begin your six practices of gratitude.

1. Practice rest
2. Practice belly breaths
3. Practice smiles
4. Practice accepting change
5. Practice what belongs to you
6. Practice the present moment

Your next steps:


Sign up for email resource: 10 Ways to Build Trust in Communication


How Groups Enhance Well-being

Certain occasions show us how groups enhance well-being. For example, my Seattle son came to visit recently. Although we were a partial group since three of my four grown children and their families gathered for dinner, we connected and hung out together. It was an awesome time of fun, energy, and laughter. Click here for audio.

All of us are familiar with groups of some kind

Few of us have participated in therapy or personal development groups. Others have been helped through Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance). Whether it’s our family of origin, staff meetings, faith communities, or hiking clubs, we’ve all had group experiences.

We’ve already experienced group dynamics just being born. We develop relationship patterns from our caregivers and siblings. These patterns subconsciously follow us into our adult relationships. 

Group are our lifeline during difficult times

The more troubled our intimate relationships become, the easier it is to detach. To avoid confrontation, we don’t say anything at all. But we think private thoughts that have no outlet. Silence turns to secrecy, shame, or judgement. Beliefs and thoughts get stuck in our heads.

The more troubled our intimate relationships become, the easier it is to detach. Click To Tweet

The older we get the easier it is to become disconnected from others. We begin to stagnant in our own patterns of thinking. Even while in significant relationships we can mentally and emotionally isolate.

We’re designed to be in groups

We’re made for relationships. We just need to be intentional about finding groups that are good for us. Interaction with others are mirrors to our souls. On the other hand, isolation is detrimental to our well-being.

Interaction with others are mirrors to our souls. Click To Tweet

When we courageously participate in a therapy or personal development group, we can break through stagnant beliefs and thoughts. We gain perspective when we verbalize our internal thoughts to those we trust.

We thrive on being heard and understood by others in a group. It’s empowering when someone else says to us, That makes sense because I really relate with what you’re saying. 

Although not all families feel the connection, fun, and laughter, therapy and personal development groups can provide the sense of belonging we all need. Transformational experiences await those who are open to connection through group experiences.

Sign up for a free 20 minute consultation about group work

Groups to check out:  Professional Women’s Focus Group

Therapist’s Groups: Peer Therapist Support Group and Group Supervision.


Counselor Support

How To Find The Right Counselor

With a splotchy red face and tears dripping down my cheeks, I had just shared intimate details of my life. An hour later, having used lots of tissue and now less money in my purse I wasn’t going back. The therapist was competent and reputable. But the chemistry wasn’t there for me. It’s important to know how to find the right counselor before your first counseling appointment.

Before you bare your soul to a counselor, it's important to find the right fit for you. Click To Tweet

Some clients feel cheated paying counseling fees at their first session if it’s not a good fit.

Here’s things to consider before you hire your mental health counselor or relationship therapist. Some may be more important to you than others. These items will help you get clarity for the therapist that’s right for you.

Do your research before contacting a licensed professional counselor.

Of course, it’s always helpful to get recommendations from your friends, family, or doctor. But do your own research as well. What may be a good fit for your sister’s marriage, may not be a good fit for yours. Each individual and relationship is different.

Many therapists advertise on Psychology Today, or Top Rated Marriage Counselors or other counseling platforms. Start with a google search in your area. If you’re looking for marriage counseling, just type in marriage counseling in or near your city.

  • Read counselors profiles, specialties, and blog posts. Some even have introductory videos.
  • Find out how long they’ve been in practice.
  • Discover whether they’re “general practitioners” or if they specialize.

Make an initial connection with a counselor through their online presence or profile.

If you’re just too anxious to make that initial phone call, send a short email. You can say something like this:

I’m interested in counseling. Do you offer free consultations? 

Or you can say this:

I’m interested in counseling. Would you please call me at (your phone number) on Monday afternoon? I have a few questions to ask. 

Don’t assume you’re obligated to schedule a counseling appointment with that first connection by phone or email. It’s OK to shop around.

Here’s things to consider at a first encounter with a counselor:

  • How long does it take to receive an email reply? You should hear back within 24 hours.
  • The counselor may not offer free office consultations, but may spend 15 minutes on the phone with you. If so, pay attention to how you feel on the phone with them.
    • Do they sound rushed?
    • Is their voice warm and inviting?
    • Is it fast or slow?
    • Abrupt or calm?

Some counselors choose not to have contact with clients before meeting them at their first appointments. Their assistants may be the only initial connection. Decide if that’s acceptable to you. You are the one who decides what’s best for you. Your preferences matter.

It’s proper and necessary to interview two or three before hiring the right counselor for you.

Whether you’re choosing a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, or a mental health therapist, you’re the one doing the hiring for their expertise. Just as you would hire a contractor or mechanic, mental health professionals are providing you services.

View yourself as a client or patient who is making an informed choice. It’s easy to be intimidated by a person’s title or initials after their name. You are just as important as your provider. They just have issues you don’t know about. We are all human beings worthy of respect, dignity and worth.

Avoid anyone who makes you feel “less than.” Whether you’re struggling with substance addiction or a mood disorder, you’re no less than the doctor or therapist who is treating you.

Don’t leave your first counseling appointment feeling cheated. Save your tears for the right one.

Sign up for a free 20 minute consultation.