How to Stop Fretting and Regretting Your Decisions

How many times has this happened to you?  You firmly decide what you’re going to do, whether going to the gym or asking your boss for a raise or placing a call to a friend; but then you end up doing exactly what you did not intend to – sitting on the couch, letting another day go by without speaking to your boss or calling your friend.  Although procrastination and willpower come into play, how we decide what to do and why our decisions often go the wrong way are more complicated than that.

Many people feel exhausted and overwhelmed and end up making poor decisions because they don’t have time to think through their goals.  One of the prime ways we get ourselves exhausted and overwhelmed is by getting anxious about making decisions.  We then make poor and compulsive decisions that bring about anxiety and the circuit is complete.

Identifying Your Internal Triggers

This will help you:  Identify the internal trigger that makes you feel overwhelmed – and it isn’t something that happens to you, it is something you do to yourself.  When you believe that any decision must be the right one, then even small decisions can paralyze you.  Here is one suggestion: Take your emotional temperature.  Try to be more aware of where your emotions are coming from and how, even if seemingly irrelevant, they may be clouding your decision.  When short-term emotions threaten to swamp long-term considerations, consider what you would recommend to your best friend.  When we step back and simulate someone else, it is a clarifying move.

Carefully researching information, while at the same time considering the source of that information, is important because you make a better decision and it may cause less regret in the long term.  Research shows that we tend to have greater regrets about decisions that have gone wrong when we feel we approached the subject without looking into it deeply enough or considering enough options

One more thing we should consider when making decisions is that we should not fear regret too much.  It is an inevitable part of life and if you can say you have lived a life without regret, you are not having enough adventures or you are rationalizing and not truly examining when things went wrong.  We also tend to overemphasize how much regret we are going to feel. Most of the time regret happens quickly and sharply, it hurts, and then it is over.  So as much as possible, think about your decisions carefully, dispassionately and with as much valid information as possible.  Look to sources you normally would not.  Question your own beliefs and confidence and then go for it.  If you regret it, well, there is always another decision waiting to be made.  You can practice confident decision making by remembering a simple dictum over and over:  You cannot have certainly and you don’t need it.  By accepting that no certainty exists and that you don’t need it; you will harness intuition and confidence. Also, ask yourself why certainty must be part of a decision.  You can thereby embrace the answer and drop the angst.

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