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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

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Craig J Todd

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

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Last Updated on September 11, 2020

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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