Living With Regret (You Don't Have To Do This)

There is a man in the world whom I love. He loves me back, though we’re not in love with each other. We didn’t have a chance to fall in love. In our history, the timing, availability, confidence, or consistency was not right enough for us to make anything substantive happen. At various points in time, for various reasons, we both chose not to be together. This is true despite the fact that, during that history, we admired, respected, and desired each other exceedingly.


Nonetheless, it didn’t happen. Once, after a conversation about our history, he said, “I’ll just have to live with the regret.”


I thought about that for a long time.


I felt really sad when I heard him say that. I felt sad at the thought that I had caused him pain. I also felt sad that his declaration of regret could govern me too. The idea felt ominous…like a dark cloud hovering overhead.


Recently, one of my close friends shared a sentiment of regret that her mother carries in her soul and body. Her mother divorced her father decades ago. He died six or seven years after their breakup. My friend’s mother regrets leaving her husband. She remembers him as intelligent, strong, and honorable, though perhaps not attentive or affectionate with her. Nearly 30 years after walking away, she wishes she had stayed in the relationship and focused on enjoying what was good about the man and the marriage. The regret she feels in relation to this choice is stuck inside her soul. When she reflects on her choice, there’s a sense of worry and sadness that’s visible in her body. It causes her to shake her head at herself, hang her shoulders a little low, and feel a tiny bit sick to her stomach. Sometimes, it brings tears to her eyes.


She’s almost a super senior now and she’s still living with regret. (Please note: I state this to clarify the details, not, at all, as an indictment of this sister or a critique of her power.)


When I heard this story, I sympathized with my friend’s mother immediately and sincerely. I remembered the regret I felt when I imagined myself as making the aforementioned “huge mistake” in love from which I could not? would not? recover. The saving grace is,  I also remembered the way Supreme Love provided me with a new, more profound understanding of the situation and choices I described above. Through Supreme Love, I found a gift in relation to regret. I immediately shared the gift with my friend. My hope was that it might help her mom to not spend the next 10 or 15 years of her life living with such a heavy burden.


Here is what Supreme Love taught me:


Regret in relationship is usually about the fear of doing something wrong and being unable to correct it. Regret is tied to frustration that can’t be calmed, embarrassment that can’t be covered, and trust that can’t be restored. Regret makes a person brittle (touchy, fretful, doubtful, nervous, mournful, sometimes hardened, and occasionally inconsolable). All this further stunts one’s ability to love and be loved.


Yet, even though we may have second thoughts about a choice we made — seeing it as bringing us (and others) pain or unhappiness — we really do have the power to make another choice. We can see the choice-in-question as a gift, no matter what happens.


This is really possible. I’ll explain how, from the root of regret and some of its subsequent ideas:


The main source of regret (especially relational regret) comes from the ideas that:


  1. We’ve lost something or someone we need who is simultaneously irreplaceable and irretrievable.


  1. We’ve got no space or time to correct this loss or make up for it in anyway.


  1. We might not be trustworthy with our lives or the hearts of other people.


These are deeply troubling ideas. They have big, big impacts and far reaching consequences in love and life. When these ideas get etched into the recesses of our soul and body, they spark the very high risk of becoming parts of our belief system. Our belief system is a major component of our pain body and shadow effect. In short: When dis-eased and unchecked, a negating belief system runs, and ruins, our lives (not to mention its impact on our family, community, and even all of society).


I can not overstate the magnitude of toxic, reactionary belief systems. They are what fuel toxic, reactionary lover identities. They are integral to the demise of individuals, families, communities, and society. They are a big part of what causes war and the desecration of humanity.


Thank God, there is another way.


You don’t have to live with regret.


You don’t have to stop believing in yourself.


You don’t have to live in the past.


You don’t have to assign anyone more credibility or worthiness than yourself.


You don’t have to give up any confidence you have in yourself as a lover → a person inherently capable of receiving and giving love decently, healthily, wisely, powerfully, consistently, joyfully, passionately, and truthfully.


You didn’t mess it all up.

You just need another lover.


When I began practicing Supreme Love, with myself and my Creator, I received wisdom that subsumed the ideas noted above. It just sucked them all up and dissolved them. Through God’s grace, radical prayer, consistent meditation, diverse exercise, reading, writing, speaking, and listening to new truths, getting in touch with holiness, and practicing happiness…along with a little bit of discipline…I realized that:


  1. I am in touch with all people. There are more gifts of people in the world than I can name or number who really want to be with me and I with them. There is no shortage of people.


  1. I am in touch with all things. As long as I’m alive, I have space and time to make additional, brand new choices. There is no deficit of time.


  1. I am the one I’ve been waiting for. I got myself, with God and my tribe, to where I am right now. And, by my authority, I call this space and time GOOD, RIGHT, and ABUNDANT. There is no powerlessness in me.


I AM shalom.

There is nothing missing.

There is nothing broken.


How can I be sure about this?


I’m sure because when I align myself with these Divinely accurate beliefs, I feel much, much, much better. That means my feeling — my concrete existence as a physical presence — is on par with God’s.


When I feel better, I do better. That means my doing — my cognitive, emotional, and enacted behavior as soulful presence — is on par with God’s.


When I do better, I be better. That means my being — my intuitive, energetic existence as a spiritual presence — is on par with God’s.


With these truths, I AM closer to The Truth. I AM whole. I AM blessed and, so…I bless.


Then, the cycle of peace and power begins again and I see that I am new.


Then, I am able to release my hold on the past and I see that  I am free.


You can do this too.
You don’t have to live with regret.  You just need another lover. You just need Supreme Love. Get in touch with me and I’ll show you how to locate and build it from the inside/out.






Jeanine Staples is Associate Professor of Literacy and Language & African American Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her book, The Revelations of Asher: Toward Supreme Love in Self, is an endarkened, feminist, new literacies event (Peter Lang, spring 2016). In it, she explores Black women’s terror in love. She produces research-based courses and methodologies that enable marginalized girls and women to realize internal revelations that fuel external revolutions.


Dr. Staples’ next book details the evolution of her acclaimed undergraduate course, The Philadelphia Urban Seminar. In it, she explores Supreme Love in schools. She shows how she generates curriculum and methodologies that incite anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-ableist pedagogical stances among teachers interested in urban education and equity for all people in schools and society.


Click here to join the Supreme Love Project group to ask Jeanine questions and comment on the blog.