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Delivered By
Bob & Julie Petersen
Delivered On
December 30, 2018
Central Passage
Philippians 3:13

Redeeming Regret


What is Regret?

  • Regret is a negative cognitive/emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.


Do People Living in the U.S. Experience Regret More Than in Other Cultures?

  • Regret is higher in cultures such as the U.S., where individuals have more choice over their life's course, versus in cultures with arranged marriages, where family have much more control over life choices.


Dictionary: Regret

  1. feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).

  2. sorrow aroused by circumstances beyond one's control or power to repair


Julie:  “I felt the regret of not having a girl”


"Studies show that regret is the second-most common emotion people mention in daily life, And it’s the most common negative emotion." - Psychology Today


► Regret is actually a God given tool in our learning process.

► It is actually healthy for us when we use it as a learning process and not live in it.


"Sometimes a past mistake is useful as a growth-op and sometimes it isn’t. The wisdom is in knowing the difference."  - Bruce Grierson, a social-science writer


Julie: "We can learn to deal with what causes regret so we don’t have to suffer loss in heaven"

  • People are afraid to evaluate a situation.  

  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire."

  • Joel 2:25-27 “Then I will make up to you for the years
    That the swarming locust has eaten,
    The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
    My great army which I sent among you.
    You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied
    And praise the name of the Lord your God,
    Who has dealt wondrously with you;
    Then My people will never be put to shame."


"Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves - regret for the past and fear of the future."  - Early 20th Century journalist Fulton Oursler


Julie: "Different personalities - perfectionist"


"Don't live your life regretting yesterday. Live your life so tomorrow you won't regret today."  - Author Catherine Pulsifer


"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regretor disappointment."  - American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn


► Regret is an emotion that needs to be managed properly.


⇔ Studies using (MRI) to scan the brain in real time while participants performed computer tasks that asked them to choose between different options for investing money.

  • When participants were shown how they could have done better with alternative strategies (to incite regret), there was decreased activity in the area associated with processing rewards.

  • There was also increased activity in the part of the brain that generates immediate emotional response to threat.


Dangers of regret:

  1. Stops you from trying things.

  2. Can lead to depression.

  3. Can cause physical problems such as ulcers.

  4. Keeps you from properly evaluating error in situations.


"The less opportunity one has to change the situation, the more likely it is that regret can turn into rumination and chronic stress that damages mind and body."  - Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. (Clinical Psychologist)


Keys to handling regret:

  1. Can you do something about it now?

  2. Don’t emotionally take on others regret. You can offer suggestions but don’t internalize it.

  3. Retrain your mind to force it away from the thoughts of regret that you can’t do anything about now.

  4. Believe that God can redeem anything!


Julie: People make statements like “I’ll never get over it” or "I’ll never be the same”

  • Sometimes there is a process in the redeeming process.

  • We have to recognize actions or words that caused regret


♦ Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead ♦


Is There Any Value in Regret?

  • Study 1
    • Researchers scanned the brains of three groups of subjects using fMRI technology: Young people with average age 25, healthy older people with average age 66, and depressed older people, also 66 on average. All participants worked on a computer game during the brain scan in which they had to decide whether to keep opening boxes or rest. Each box could contain an amount of money or could contain a devil emblem that meant they lost all their money and ended that round of the game.

    • To incite regret, researchers showed people after each round how far they could have gone to earn more money.

    • There were substantial differences in brain functioning between the healthy elderly and the other groups. On both appearance of the devil and being shown lost opportunities, the young and depressed elderly showed decreased neural activity in the ventral stri-a-dem, the area associated with reward processing. The healthy elderly did not, however, show this regretful pattern when they were shown how far they could have gone; only when they actually lost all their money. Instead, when faced with their missed alternatives, this group actually showed increased neural firing in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, an area involved in emotional regulation and control.

    • This suggests that their brains were actively working to successfully regulate the pain of regret.

  • Study 2

    • Researchers at Northwestern University, a leader in the field of regret research, found that younger people have shown that regret was rated more favorably than unfavorably, primarily because of its informational value in motivating corrective action.

    • ​​​Interestingly, regret was rated highest of a list of negative emotions in fulfilling five functions:

      • (1) making sense of the world

      • (2) avoiding future negative behaviors

      • (3) gaining insight

      • (4) achieving social harmony

      • (5) improving ability to approach desired opportunities