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How to Avoid Regrets After Making Decisions

How to Avoid Regrets After Making Decisions

You and your partner both love dogs. And after much discussion, you decide to go ahead and purchase a cute dalmatian puppy.

At first, you’re so excited by your puppy’s boundless energy and non-stop playfulness. However, after a few days, your enthusiasm begins to wane. This is due to your puppy chewing a pair of your best shoes, scratching your wooden floor – and urinating on your sofa!

After these unfortunate events, you’re probably starting to regret acquiring your puppy.

Regret Is More Common Than You May Think

When you blame yourself for a bad outcome, or feel sorrow as a result of a choice you’ve made – you’re experiencing regret.

Regret can take many forms, including: a sense of loss after the break-up of a relationship, frustration after failing to capitalize on a career opportunity, and a feeling of intense sadness after you were unable to see a parent in their final days.

Research shows that 90 percent of us have a major regret about something in our lives.[1] The most common regret is related to romance, followed by family, education, career and finance.

While regrets can highlight to us where we have gone wrong, they can also cause us to be hesitant and afraid of decision making.

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Can Regret Be Harmful to You?

The question above can be answered with one word… Yes!

Think for a moment about a decision you made in your life that you later deeply regretted. Perhaps this was the career path that you chose, that put money before contentment. Although you’re now financially comfortable – you ache for what might have been. Your childhood dreams of being an actor or a musician never had the chance to be fulfilled. (For example.)

Regret such as this, can plague your mental well-being for the rest of your life. You may even become bitter and depressed about the lost chances, and the failure to develop your innate talents.

This brings us to decision making. This is at the heart of everything we do.

If we make a series of good decisions, our life is likely to be happy and successful. If we make a series of bad decisions, our life is likely to be gloomy and unrewarding.

So yes, regret can be harmful to you. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Take These Steps to Avoid Regret (Or at Least to Cope with It)

Let’s turn now to some specific ways of avoiding or dealing with regret.

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If There’s Nothing You Can Do – Let It Go

Highly-successful entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington know that winning involves a lot of losing!

This losing could include: failed business ventures, personal bankruptcy or even personal scandal. Whatever the cause, successful entrepreneurs have learned how to let go of failures and move on to victories. If they were to spend time and energy regretting every decision that led to failure, they would quickly lose their entrepreneurial spirit.

It should be the same for you. If you’re still regretting a decision you made months or years ago, and there’s nothing you can do about it – just let it go.

Don’t Blame Yourself Too Much

It’s widely believed that forgiving others is easier than forgiving ourselves.[2] Unfortunately, this means that we are also likely to blame ourselves more often than we should.

Let’s say you had a minor car accident that you believed was your fault. But how sure are you that it was 100 percent your mistake? Perhaps the lighting, weather or road conditions had an effect? If the accident involved another driver, could they have been partially at fault too?

Once you are aware of the psychological tendency for individuals to take too much of the blame for something, you can begin to see a fairer and more realistic picture.

Learn from Your Mistakes

It’s easy to allow regrets to splinter your happiness and shatter your dreams. However, there is another way.

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Instead of wallowing in regret, look for the cause of what went wrong, and see if you can learn from it.

For example, you’ve posted something stupid on social media, and now you’re worried that it might impact your career prospects. Despite your best efforts, you’ve been unable to delete all traces of the post.

It’s at this point that you should take a step back, and admit to yourself that you made a mistake (a stupid, senseless post). While you may not be able to correct the mistake – you can certainly learn from it. You can make an effort to ensure that your future posts to social media are free from controversial comments and embarrassing photos.

Choose to Right Your Wrongs

The older you get, the more likely you are to experience regret.[3] One reason for this, is the fact that as you age, it gets harder to right your wrongs. This can make regrets increasingly painful.

Because of the above trend, it’s important to tackle your regrets without delay.

Let’s say that you regret taking a book from your school library and never returning it. Years after the incident, you still feel bad about it. Instead of doing nothing – choose to take action. If you still have the book, you could send it back to the school (anonymously if necessary). If you don’t have the book anymore, why not donate an alternative book to the school’s library?

Righting our wrongs can immediately break us free from our regrets. Try it, and see for yourself.

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Improve Your Decision Making

In life, you need to make innumerable decisions every day. What clothes to wear. What food to eat. What friends to call. (To name but a few.)

There are also major decisions that you must make in life. These include choosing a partner, a career path, and a place to call home.

Clearly, knowing how to make good decisions is an essential skill for a happy and successful life. And that’s not all. By regularly making favorable decisions, you’ll have fewer things in life to regret about.

Release Negative Emotions by Writing Yourself a Letter

You may have done some things in the past that you are not proud of. They may even horrify you.

One way to liberate yourself from these regrets is to write yourself a letter. Not just any letter, though. This will be a highly-personal letter that lists your major regrets, and what you think was the root cause of them. For instance, you might write something like this: “I deeply regret treating staff in my team in a patronizing and demeaning fashion. They did nothing to deserve this. I see now that the fault was in my court. And the cause was my lack of self-confidence and belief.”

Regret is the second most often mentioned emotion after love.[4] Despite this, it’s possible that you’ve never given regret any serious thought. It could be time for you to change this.

Consider how regret may be holding you back in life – and determine to do something about it.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

Reference

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

    If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

    The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

    Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

    There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

    Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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    Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

    Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

    Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

    • The idea for Google -Larry Page
    • Alternating current generator -Tesla
    • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
    • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
    • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

    …and many, many more.

    Fact #4: Premonition dreams

    There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

    You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

    • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
    • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
    • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
    • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

    Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

    Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

    Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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    Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

    In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

    Fact #7: Sexual dreams

    The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

    Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

      Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

      Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

      • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
      • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
      • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

      Fact #9: Dream drug

      There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

      Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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        The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

        Fact #11: Increased brain activity

        You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

        Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

        As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

        Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

        In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

        Fact #13: Pets dream too

          Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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          Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

          Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

          Fact #15: Blind people dream too

          Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

          Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

            It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

            Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

            Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

            Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

            You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

            Fact #19: Gender differences

            Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

            Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

            As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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