5 Things To Do When You Say Something You Regret

woman who said something she regrets
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Last Updated on June 24, 2021 by Lori Geurin

Wondering what to do when you say something you regret? If you’ve ever said the wrong thing and instantly wished you hadn’t then this article is for you!

My friends and family may be reading this and laughing out loud thinking back to a time when I opened my mouth and (should have) inserted my foot.

Ironically, for several years my favorite song was Alison Krauss’s’ When You Say Nothing At All (but that’s a whole other story).

As you can see, writing this article doesn’t mean I’m immune to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. I don’t always have a way with words. But I’ll continue working to learn and grow from my mistakes, many though they might be.

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Wondering how to recover from something embarrassing?

Below you’ll find tips that have helped me recover from embarrassing (and potentially damaging) situations when I either said too much, said the wrong thing without thinking, or didn’t say what I meant.

You probably don’t need these strategies as much as I do. But, even so, I hope they’ll help you navigate difficult circumstances when you’re in these awkward situations.

Here’s a video from Jay Shetty about moving past the pain of regret.

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lady sitting at desk said something she regrets

What To Do When You Say Something You Regret

1. Take a deep breath and pause.

After you say something you regret the last thing you want to do is overreact to the situation. If you said something hurtful (or inappropriate) you’ll deal with it. But first, take a few moments to decompress.

De-stress.

Collect your thoughts. Evaluate what happened. How serious is the damage? Really.

Taking a pause to clear your head can relieve stress and help you think more rationally about what went down.

Related: 10 Ways To Relieve Stress And Anxiety

2. Tell yourself the truth.

Keep perspective and know that whatever you said, it’s not the end of the world. Things will be okay.

Overreacting is never productive.

Everyone has these days. Everyone makes mistakes. But deep down you have a good heart and you didn’t mean for your words to come out the way they did.

And even if you did, there’s a way to make things right again.

It can help to write your thoughts and feelings down in a journal.

(You’ll feel inspired by these 20 quotes about compassion.)

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(Find out how to be a better listener with 10 easy tips.)

3. Sincerely apologize and make peace.

This may be the hardest step for many most people but it’s imperative. If you hurt the other person – or even if you didn’t – but you know you were in the wrong, having self-awareness and saying you’re sorry can go a long way to making amends.

If you’re too freaked out to talk to them face to face (and they aren’t ready to talk to you up close and personal anyway) consider writing a thoughtful note or email expressing how sorry you are for hurting or offending them.

Related: 8 Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills

Whatever you do, don’t make excuses like I was just kidding or suggest they were being too sensitive.

Own up to your mistake and take responsibility. And whatever you do, don’t get defensive.

Validate their feelings. Even though you may have experienced the situation differently, arguing about what happened isn’t helpful. Each of us experiences life through our own unique lens.

It’s crucial to hear the injured party’s perspective and acknowledge that their experience and feelings are valid.

It’s also important to note that after you apologize don’t expect anything from the other person. Whether they choose to accept your apology or not is up to them.

If they welcome you back with open arms that’s awesome, but if not, it’s their loss and you can move forward knowing you did your best to make amends.

Which leads me to #4.

4. Move forward.

Move on down, move on down the ro-oad…

Don’t live in the past.

I’m not suggesting being insensitive here at all. I’m pro kindness all the way, baby!

(In fact, here are 50 ways to be kind.)

You can check out our Be Kind shirts and apparel in our Wellness Lori shop.

Simply click on the t-shirt below.

be kind t-shirt

But if you worry about what you could have done differently or shame yourself for making a mistake you can get stuck repeating mistakes from your past.

God loves you and made you one-of-a-kind!

When you’re self-critical and hung up on what other people think of you, it keeps you from seeing yourself the way He does.

And it holds you back from living your best life and fulfilling your true purpose.

Moving forward in a positive direction allows you to reach outside of yourself to love and give more to the people around you.

So…if you’ve made a valid effort to do what’s mentioned in #3 above then move on, move forward, and give yourself grace regardless of how the other person or people may react.

You got this!

Related: 10 Proven Benefits Of Gratitude That Will Upgrade Your Life

5. Learn and grow from your mistakes.

Use every opportunity in life, including the awkward, unpleasant ones, to improve yourself for the better.

See every situation as a learning opportunity.

A good time to do this is when you’re in a healthy head space and can separate your feelings from the circumstances.

Evaluate situations that don’t go as you’d hoped and brainstorm different and better ways to handle things in the future. Doing this will empower you to improve, grow, and learn from even the most uncomfortable social situations.

Learn more with the 10 habits of mentally strong people.

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embarrassed man with his head in hands at his computer / what to do when you say something you regret

Summary – What To Do When You Say Something You Regret

Most everyone can relate to saying awkward, uncomfortable and hurtful things to people from time to time. From the moment the words fall out of your mouth you wish you could put them right back in.

Saying something you regret is not unusual and doesn’t make you a bad person.

We don’t mean for it to happen, but sometimes it just does. When you find yourself regretting something you said I hope you’ll refer back to these strategies that can help!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions below in the comment section. X, Lori

If you enjoyed this guide on what to do when you say something you regret, you’ll want to check out:

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16 thoughts on “5 Things To Do When You Say Something You Regret”

  1. One time my neighbors dog nipped at my little baby fur child and so I looked that dog straight in it’s eyes and took a big ole bite at him. Definitely regret that, so thanks for sharing!

  2. I am in this situation now where I mistakingly wrote in an office group chat that our bosses are not helping us. The bosses are in that group. One boss angrily wrote her reponse and the other called me to say that what I did was unprofessional. Tried to reason out to the boss who called. Now that blunder is giving me moments of regret. While what i said maybe true it put them in a bad light. Now thinking of apologizing as what you said that is the only way that I can correct the situation. JUst waiting for the consequences of that blunder as I stay with the company, Thanks.

  3. I was at the park with my kids and another child smacked mine in the face. I didn’t handle it well and was extremely rude to the other parent. I won’t get into what got me frustrated bc I do not want to seem to make any excuses for my bad behaviour. I immediately felt horrible and ashamed. I do not know this person or where to find her to apologize. I’m just feeling so bad. I am usually a kind patient person. I literally am sick to my stomach I feel so bad. I did say to my kids that mommy should not have been rude and that I was wrong.

    1. Hi Lisa! One of the most difficult things to deal with is seeing your child hurting. As you know, when someone harms your child, it can bring up many different feelings such as sadness, anger, or a sense that justice must be served. That ‘Mama Bear’ instinct takes over. The adrenaline is pumping and we can say things we wouldn’t normally say to protect our child. (Been there, done that.)

      I applaud you for not making excuses because it’s so easy to do when you’re in a tough situation. There are always 2 sides to a situation and I’m sure there was more going on for you to confront this parent.

      That said, we all have bad days and don’t always show up well, especially when we’re feeling strong emotions regarding our children. You’re clearly remorseful about what happened and I’m sure you would apologize to this person if you had the opportunity. It’s wonderful that you talked to your children about what happened because it’s important for them to see that, even though none of us is perfect, we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.

      I’ve uncovered a few insights about myself from saying things I regret (because I’ve had a lot of practice). These circumstances make me more susceptible to saying things I later regret:

      a. Getting triggered by something someone said or did, or the environment I was in.
      b. Being sleep-deprived or not feeling well.
      c. Having a lot of strong feelings because of something someone did or said to me.
      d. When someone hurts my child’s feelings or hurts them physically (like what happened to your child).
      e. Not having all the facts beforehand.

      Knowing this about myself gives me a greater awareness of my pain points and triggers so I can work on areas I want to improve on. It’s also allowed me to give more grace to other people when they say don’t always say the right things either. You might consider journaling your thoughts and feelings about what happened.

      Remember that we all have bad days but that doesn’t define us. Knowing you’ve done all that you can to remedy the situation (talking about it with your kids), I hope you’re able to forgive yourself and move forward as the kind and awesome person that you are! X, Lori

  4. I did something I wish I could take back and it was shameful, I went on a date with this guy on a Saturday we had a really good time a good connection I really liked a lot and he liked me I could tell ,so we ended the date . The next day I texted him and said good morning handsome happy Father’s day , then it happened my sister texted me and asked me how my date was I begin to tell her how great of a time we had and what a connection we made , and how good looking he was , she said he was good looking huh and put lol. I replied he had only one flaw he had a mole on side of his face lol. Here comes the worst thing I accidentally sent it to him , omg I felt so bad I was horrified how,could I do that anyway,i apologized over,and over again that,day i,texted him 5 times no response then that morning I texted him again no response he still won’t respond what do I do? Or say to him to make him believe how sorry I truly am because I really liked him .

    1. Hi Janet, I’m so sorry this happened. I’ve sent texts to the wrong people before (mostly when I’m not wearing my reading glasses, and other times because I’m in a hurry) and I feel your pain. It sounds like you really like this guy and maybe he’ll come around and realize what a great person you are. But, if not, it’s ultimately his loss.

      No one’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes. You sound like a conscientious, caring person based on the fact that you’ve apologized to him so many times…even though he’s not been responsive. But if he can’t see past this then he’s the one who’s missing out.

      Unfortunately, we can’t control what other people think. But we can be kind and forgive ourselves when we make mistakes (even if other people don’t). I would love to see you move on from this (no matter what happens with the guy) with a renewed belief in yourself. You’re worthy of love and respect.

  5. This is such helpful advice. Unfortunately, my mouth sometimes acts more quickly than my brain and I wind up saying something I shouldn’t have. I think moving forward after a sincere apology is a great strategy.

    1. Thank you, Christa. I’m glad you found it helpful!

      I like your explanation of what happens. Our brain hasn’t caught up with our words and we end up doing damage control.

      I’m glad you like the strategy! Some people may find it more difficult to move forward but it’s important not to ruminate on what happened. Thanks for weighing in on this!

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