Media Magazine

5 Reasons Why Sharing Regrets Online Can Help

By Drpamelarutledge @pamelarutledge

Research shows that the depth of our regret is often related to our ability to achieve closure (Beike, Markman, & Karadogan, 2008). We can get closure by finding a ‘second change’-having future opportunities to make a new choice. For events that cannot be changed and where the circumstances are not repeatable, closure is harder to get. Psychological closure happens when we can get some distance or a new perspective-when we can shed past possible selves and goals and move forward.

Recent research by Morrison & Roese (2011) out of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management categorized the regrets of a typical American. They divided the responses about regret into 12 domains, with top six being, not surprisingly, romance, family, education, career, finance, and parenting. That’s all very well and good, but what can we DO when we experience regret? How can we move beyond it?

The Psychology of Regret
One solution is online. Kevin Hansen, my friend and one of my co-panelists at SxSW, started a site called SecretRegrets.com. To his surprise, the site struck a chord and thousands of people anonymously post their deepest regrets and respond to one another. The site is touching because of the heartfelt revelations and the supportive community it has formed, but it is humbling because so many people talk about how cathartic and transformative the experience has been for them. It has become such a phenomenon that Kevin has published a book (Secret Regrets: What if You Had a Second Chance”) with highlights from the blog postings and appeared on Dr. Phil (Friday, April 1, 2011).

Self-disclosure has been shown to decrease negative moods, improve physical health, and can move someone away from self-blame (Beike, et al., 2008). But why would sharing your regrets anonymously with strangers on a public forum make a difference?

Here are five reasons why. Online forums provide several things that support a therapeutic experience:

  1. What we experience online that triggers and satisfies basic human needs, such as connection, affiliation, group membership, and social validation—may be technically ‘virtual’ but they are interpreted as meaningful experience by the instinctual and emotional areas of the human brain.
  2. A key feature of a therapeutic environment is that it is a safe place to disclose feelings. On SecretRegrets.com, the anonymity creates that safety. People can post without feeling the prohibitive vulnerability that comes with exposing something that also carries embarrassment or shame.
  3. Like group therapy, the posts and comments from others validate the experience of regret for posters and readers alike. It becomes a shared experience and creates a sense of belonging. The person with regrets no longer feels alone or isolated. The comments posted on SecretRegrets.com are positive and supportive. My own work analyzing online forums has shown that people transform this type of online group validation into a more positive and agentic sense of self, becoming more effective in their ‘real’ lives.
  4. Unlike similarly anonymous telephone hotlines, online regrets are written. Expressing emotion in writing means creating a narrative structure around the regrets. Writing requires organizing complex thoughts and the process is self-reflective (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999).
  5. Most importantly, SecretRegrets.com provides an outlet and support for people with no other avenues for disclosure. The feedback Kevin has received, although anecdotal, has shown the transformative effects of the ability to share in a safe place and receive support and validation.

Secret Regrets
The ability to disclose provides closure, but it also has a learning function. Regretting lost opportunities reminds us to be open to new opportunities to look for the second chance. Or as my dad would say, “Carpe Diem!”

—–

Beike, D., Markman, K., & Karadogan, F. (2008). What We Regret Most Are Lost Opportunities: A Theory of Regret Intensity. Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 385-397

Morrison, M., & Roese, N. J. (2011). Regrets of the Typical American: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, Online. Retrieved March 26, 2011

Pennebaker, J. W., & Seagal, J. D. (1999). Forming a Story: The Health Benefits of Narrative. Journal of Clinial Psychology, 55 (10), 1243-1254


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Why Do My T-Shirts Get Holes in the Bottom?

    T-Shirts Holes Bottom?

    I was once in a client’s wardrobe doing a wardrobe therapy session and the smell of mothballs was overpowering. She had them all over... The post Why Do My... Read more

    12 hours, 34 minutes ago by   Imogenl
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • Why Do My T-Shirts Get Holes in the Bottom?

    T-Shirts Holes Bottom?

    I was once in a client's wardrobe doing a wardrobe therapy session and the smell of mothballs was overpowering. She had them all over her closet, hanging... Read more

    12 hours, 34 minutes ago by   Imogenl
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • Kiwi Cookies

    Kiwi Cookies

    (recipe adapted from Carol Hu)Ingredients:(A)Kinako flavour60g Cowhead salted butter40g fine sugar20g egg110g Blue Jacket Cake Flour10g Kinako(B)Matcha... Read more

    12 hours, 34 minutes ago by   Cathysjoy
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • George A. Romero – The Best Movies

    George Romero Best Movies

    George A. Romero - The Best Movies The horror genre recently lost one of its true visionaries, filmmaker George A. Romero. Romero began his career with a... Read more

    The 24 July 2017 by   House Of Geekery
    ENTERTAINMENT, TV & VIDEO
  • Review: "BLACK!" (Athenaeum Theatre)

    Review: "BLACK!" (Athenaeum Theatre)

    Enthralling one-man show explores what it means to be black in America and the world I have a great respect and admiration for a performer who can hold an... Read more

    The 24 July 2017 by   Chicagotheaterbeat
    CULTURE, THEATRE & OPERA
  • And After the Break: Can Paris Prosper at London's Expense post-Brexit?

    After Break: Paris Prosper London's Expense post-Brexit?

    This is a package I put together for The National - which permits its reproduction here - on where Paris finds itself and hopes to be as a result of the... Read more

    The 24 July 2017 by   Colin Randall
    CULTURE, TRAVEL
  • Ebony Steele Gets New Talk Show Gig Will Replace the T.d. Jakes Show

    Ebony Steele Gets Talk Show Will Replace T.d. Jakes

    ChristianNews Ebony Steele, formerly of the Rickey Smiley Morning Show has got herself a new gig as a talk show host, on   “The Daily Blast Live,” a... Read more

    The 24 July 2017 by   Firstladyb
    SPIRITUALITY

COMMENTS ( 1 )

By ANON
posted on 22 May at 06:24
Report spam/abuse

This is a sneaky attempt to promote some fucking bullshit book - the site is useless - just a front for the book. BULLSHIT