Regrets are romantically talked about as occurring often in old age. With a perspective of time and less to do, reflecting on what could have been can be common. Often offerred as teaching moments to those younger. Sometimes hidden inside generating great sorrow.
I contend though that we regularly have regrets. Ones that revolve aroung this question “Why did I decide THIS? Where things did not turn out the way we wanted them to. Or where something unexpected appeared taking us far off course.
It’s a question that hides from us because of the busyness in our lives. Other times, it stares us directly in our heart. When we are discouraged or beaten up because of a decision we made before. Calling ourselves “stupid or dumb” for making a decision that went so wrong.
What’s interesting is the level of difficulty in re-constructing the context and beliefs we bring to a decision before it is made. We rarely measure twice and cut once. And when we think we do, it is so rushed and jumbled making it hard to remember. For our emotions coupled with the need to feel good and avoid pain always has the potential to cloud our judgment. With our ego, changing the story to always make us look competent.
Hindsight is 20 – 20. Yes. We should have done something different is obvious. But finding what led us to the certainty of the expectation of a different outcome is not. Not only this, but we rarely talk about what led us to make such a poor decision. Finding the flaws in our thinking and approach can be so helpful, but again, very hard to do. For instictively, we always shine the best light on our efforts. Making it difficult for us to give ourselves an objective evaluation.
There is no easy way to correct for this. Situations change all of the time. Recognizing a pattern from past experience can be helpful but not foolproof in trying to make a similar decision as you have in the past given the situation. Certainly, our distracted and busy lives don’t allow for more reflection before making a decision.
Talking to others before deciding can be helpful. But this depends on who you talk to. What is their experiences and how different is their lives from ours? Does their input really come from a perspective different than ours? Or are we talking into a mirror with people who only know as much as we do?
“Why did I decide THIS” is a question we feel more than we ask. Asking it more than feeling it is where we can find it to be most helpful. Making our future decisions a little bit stronger in moving us in the direction we want to go.