Monday, June 4, 2012


Whatever you REGRET - be it harsh words you uttered, a lie, letter, phone conversation, vow, promise, an infidelity, or a choice, a decision you made -- it's a pothole in your mind.

You get stuck in it, spend a lot of time mulling it over.

Do what I do! The real me, Dr. Em, ex-dancer, novelist, blogger, John Cullum's wife says:

Buy a notebook.

Pick a pretty color and carry it with you wherever you go. Whenever a regretful thought pops into your mind, write it down -- scrawl a word or two or write a paragraph that will ring a bell when you see it.

Once REGRETS are in your note book, when the woe-is-me thoughts pop into your mind, open the notebook. Look at it, skim what's there on the page, instead of mulling things over again and again and again.

Regretting is heading backwards into the past.

Make a Job, Career page. Put down stuff you've been telling yourself, like "I'm in the wrong profession -- I'm too old to change -- I'm bored, hate what I'm doing -- I am stuck -- I don't have any other skills."

Then, REVERSE it -- remove, erase, excise too old. Lop off 10 or 20 years. Consider what you'd like to do; what skills to acquire, what you could study, and names of people to whom you could talk. Write down on a page, even vaguely possible possibilities.

Do an Age/Weight/Me page --include all the bad stuff -- you're over the hill, you've got health problems, you don't have energy, etc.

REVERSE the negative, item by item. Out loud, declare I am not over the hill. My health isn't stopping me! I've got energy! If you are overweight, asthmatic, diabetic -- whatever ails you -- if you're disabled and you want to go for a walk, ride a bike, dance -- just REDEFINE what going for a walk/bike/dance is.

Wish you could teach? help the poor? take care of pets, travel, write a book? be an actor? Whatever you wish -- make a list on a separate page.

Make a sub-list -- put down what you need -- college degree, a person to contact, a starting point.

Make a CONTACTS page. Names, phone numbers. Make a sub-list for volunteer work -- things you could do for NO pay

Okay, suppose you're out of money.

REMOVE/ REVERSE this reality. Create a list of the number one, first, most important things you'd like to do. Sub-list all the ways you could acquire money. Once this stuff is in your notebook, lack of money doesn't divert you, stop you, from figuring out possible actions.

Got a LOVE problem? Put it down --are you stuck, do you have an unbreakable commitment? Make sub lists of what you could do if you were free. It'll be a revelation -- there are plenty of things you can do.

With a notebook and lists -- reversing, lopping off years, removing negative concepts, and restrictions -- you will get fresh ideas about what you can do today.

The guy who invented the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, said. “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”


Louise Sorensen said...

Hi Em. This is very good advice. I sometimes feel I have my life figured out, sometimes not.
What I do with negative thoughts, is acknowledge them, and then stop thinking them. Chant a little mantra when they get too loud. We can only hold one line of thought at a time. At least, I can.
I keep getting older and older. Each year, more challenges and surprises from the body. But I'm happy to be alive and be writing.
I'll have a look at your book site.
I'd be honoured if you would check out some of my stories at and leave a comment.

Anonymous said...

Good blog Em. Makes us more aware of our faults and our greatness in fixing these negative things to postiive things. I like what Mr.Bell said about another door opening when one closes. The notebook idea is sort of like writing a book-about you and your life-could be very positive and revealing. kam

Poet_Carl_Watts said...

Excellent advice. Writing down data instead of churning it in your mind is much healthier, saner. The problems of the mind are only problems because they are "unknown" and not truly confronted.

Writing down data helps one know and confront.

Regret sticks one in the past when one is in the present. Pretty insane right :-)

Have a present time day and consider the future, the past is done!

Carola said...

Lots of good ideas in this post. I would add a list of interesting books you've read so that you can remember to tell other people about them.

Maureen Jacobs said...

Ms. Em, fantastic advice.

Very timely. Many of us are in situations where we don't like something about ourselves, regret something we did or didn't do, or even just need a boost.

Thank you. Journaling, however done, has always been a tradition in our home. We all have them, we all use them as needed, and they are only for our own eyes.

Now I can add to the journal experience the positive things as well.

Love it.

Maureen Jacobs

Sudhin Choksey said...

Dr. Em,
You have so rightly described the state of mind when one regrets about his/her behaviour. A perfect diagnosis !!! As a Doctor your prescription is also very exhaustive. I do not think many of us would have tried all different ways.

Emily, I admire your ability to write down your thoughts on all such topics and yet bring a tinge of humour to make it an interesting blog.

Honestly speaking, i have found my way of dealing with this state of mind. It has taken a time but it seems to be working well. I have developed a supreme faith in the Almighty and i believe that whatever happens out of my such behhaviour then the God would have prompted or planted such thought and therefore it would be eventually good. HIS wish is greater than my regrets.

I now suffer less because i do not mutilate my mind so much by thinking and regreting. Where possible i appologise to the individual or else in my prayers i offer my applogies and leave the outcome and result to the Almighty.