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Kevin Hansen started Secret Regrets by asking people what the biggest regret of their lives was, what one thing they would change if they had a second chance to. His goal was “to help people see how powerful looking back can be as the first step in moving forward". Originally a website, started by Kevin Hansen, followed by a book publication requested by many, Secret Regrets provides people with a social media platform to unburden guilt and heaviness held inside; it provides an opportunity for release, healing and second chances.People share their tender confessions of painful regrets, and remarkably, a community responds with comments in response to them, helping them feel less alone. Secret Regrets is about how ungraceful we can be at times, how poorly we can handle loss, how our fears and selfishness and desires and mistakes can linger and even haunt us for years. Secret Regrets is about being human. Parents and children, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, lovers, friends and even strangers, young and old alike, are greeted by reader’s comments that offer comfort, reassurance and most importantly, in my opinion, a sense of forgiveness and non-judgment. The message is always one of acceptance and healing. With empathy and understanding, people want others to know that “it’s ok” or “it will be ok”.Similar to the Post Secret movement started by Frank Warren, Secret Regrets provides a therapeutic opportunity for both the sender and reader of the secrets. There is an opportunity to learn and grow, on both sides. After dedicating an entire episode to Secret Regrets, Dr. Phil says, “It’s a thoughtful read, and I encourage it”. The Secret Regrets book is available on Amazon, and the eBook can be downloaded on Kindle or Nook.
How did Secret Regrets start? Was there something you regretted in your own life that inspired you to put Secret Regrets together?
Secret Regrets started as kind of an experiment. I wondered how much information people would be willing to share online if they knew they were 100% anonymous. So I created several blogs asking questions that people could answer anonymously. One asked what your biggest fear was, one asked what your most embarrassing moment was, and one asked what the biggest regret of your life was. And that’s the one that really took off. My regret of not truly believing in myself and realizing the ability I had to help others probably played an underlying role in the development of the Secret Regrets project.
Are you surprised at the level of response Secret Regrets has received, from readers, contributors and supporters?
I was completely overwhelmed at the response Secret Regrets received! I could have never imagined that this project would touch millions of people worldwide, changing lives – and even saving lives.
You were featured on the Dr. Phil show, a noteworthy accomplishment and indication of the value that Secret Regrets offers. What do you think is the most important thing that Secret Regrets offers?
I think Secret Regrets initially offers a tremendous outlet for releasing pain, guilt, and internal suffering that many people keep bottled up inside. But beyond that, Secret Regrets offers hope and inspiration, letting people know that no matter what they’ve been through, they are not alone.
What is most surprising to you about how Secret Regrets has developed?
I was most surprised how complete strangers stepped up to offer comments of support, encouragement, empathy and unconditional love to people they didn’t know. It truly brought people together by becoming a global online support community of strangers helping strangers get through the toughest times of their lives.
If you could say one thing to everyone that has sent in or that carries around a secret regret, what would that be?
I would say that no matter what you are facing in life, you don’t have to carry these burdens by yourself. If you can find the courage to post your regret on SecretRegrets.com, you can take the next step and tell someone else. A counselor, a trusted friend, or someone at your church. Each small step you take will lead to you finally being able to put your regrets behind you once and for all.
Is there something you would want to say to someone who feels they don’t deserve to move forward from a past regret?
I think for many of us, we are our own biggest critics. We have that little voice inside of us telling us we’re not good enough, we don’t deserve to be happy. But no one deserves to suffer alone. Once we admit our regrets to ourselves or others, we realize our situations are often not quite as bad as we sometimes tend to make them out to be. And when we learn others have made it through similar situations, it gives us hope that we deserve to make it through as well.
What do you think it is about Secret Regrets that provides people with an opportunity to heal?
Healing is a process that can only start once you are ready for it to start. And to get ready, you have to believe that you actually can heal. That can be a tough place to get to. But by seeing others who have made the seemingly impossible journey, Secret Regrets gives so many people the courage to start on their own path of healing. I truly believe that healing begins with revealing, and that’s what Secret Regrets is all about.
Is there any one secret regret that impacted you, affected you or broke your heart the most?
Of the thousands of secret regrets I’ve received, the one that stands out the most is the one featured in the introduction of the Secret Regrets book. It’s from a 16 year old girl who regretted on New Year’s Eve that she had no reason to live and see the new year. The Secret Regrets community responded with dozens of supportive comments. They posted hotlines and helplines. They told of their own struggle with suicidal thoughts. They pleaded with her to just reach out and talk to someone about this. And she did. She returned to the Secret Regrets website a couple of days later. Her post began with “I’m here.” She thanked the anonymous community that rallied around her, giving her courage to tell her best friend about her struggles and her intentions. She next told her mom, and she indicated she was seeking professional help. I thought to myself, a life had actually just been saved – thanks to the Secret Regrets project and the amazing online community of supporters. I will never forget that regret – and amazing resolution.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
There has been SO much great advice given by Secret Regrets fans for those struggling with regrets. I think the best advice is when people suggest using Secret Regrets as a vehicle for making a change in their own life. For example, a woman posted that she couldn’t forgive herself for cheating on her husband – even though he said he had forgiven her. Someone suggested that she let her husband read the Secret Regret she submitted. So she did. He was amazed and shocked that she was STILL beating herself up over something he hadn’t thought about in years. She finally realized he had truly forgiven her – and that gave her the ability to truly forgive herself.
What’s next for Secret Regrets? Is there anything we can look out for?
I’m currently working on my next book, Secret Regrets: Volume 2. With more than 25,000 posted regrets and comments, there are so many more stories to tell. So many more lives to be changed – and even saved.
Do you have any words to live by?
I would just want everyone to discover that true healing does begin with revealing. We can all learn to put the biggest mistake of our lives behind us once and for all. We just need to regret it, forget it, and move on.
mindyourmind speaks with advocates, authors, musicians, athletes and other people about their own opinions and life experiences.