Living with regret?
Regret, and emotion most people are familiar with and one most of us don’t care for. Regret has been defined as the experience we have when we realize we may have had a better outcome if we chose differently. Many times having more opportunities can create a greater opportunity for regret (Roese, N & Summerville, A.). This doesn’t mean that we should live lives striving for less opportunity. It does suggest that as our lives have become increasingly more complex, potentially as a result of more opportunity, successfully managing regret could be a powerful benefit.
There are several common ways regret presents itself in our lives:
- Opportunities lost– When we feel that we missed opportunities we are at greater risk for feeling regret. The more opportunities we think we lost the more regret we are likely to feel.
- Belief that we can make a difference– Feeling that we can make a difference in our world is generally good. If something doesn’t turn out as we would like and we feel that we should have been able to influence it we are more likely to feel regret in how we proceeded.
- Close but not exactly what we expect– When we take on a task or challenge and get close to our goal we are more likely to feel regret than if we are nowhere our goal. The proximity to our goal without completely reaching seems to enhance the likelihood of regret. It might service better to reward ourselves for working toward a goal independent of the outcome.
- Having the opportunity to change our mind– If we take a plan of action and are not able to revisit or redo any steps of it we are more likely to move forward without regret. it is possible this is allowing us to focus on what we can do next or how we can learn from the past rather than getting caught in uncertainty surrounding making the “best decision.” for example, shoppers are happier when they can’t get a refund rather than wondering if they should seek a refund.
Charles R Davenport, Psy.D., LLC. provides therapy and counseling services in Venice, Florida and Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Charles R Davenport is a Licensed Psychologist who works with individuals and couples to find change in their lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with regret please feel free to contact the office at 941-321-1971.