I will regret not being with others

Regret decisions? "We are also what we did not choose"

What is the feeling of remorse about?

Sonja Rieder

Rieder: Remorse has two components: On the one hand, the cognitive one - you realize that, from today's perspective, you would no longer make the decision that way. Often one then says: My decision was wrong. This is not true because it is an illusion to believe that there is a right and a wrong decision. We don't know how things will develop in the future. But cognitively we take it like this: It is now different from what I imagined and I judge that negatively.

The emotional component is regret as grief, it can also be anger. That is a strong emotion, because you not only find out in fact that the situation is not ideal, there are also a lot of emotions involved.

"The repentance itself is now psychologically assessed very positively."

People deal with repentance very differently. How does a good handling look like?

Rieder: Feeling remorse does not mean that someone has a more negative mindset than those around them who are less likely to regret something. How it is dealt with is also a question of type. Some people are more top-heavy, others less. If you brood more, you might pick things up more, but the learning effect can also be greater here.

The repentance itself is now assessed very positively psychologically. Recent research has shown that repentance helps us in life - I agree with that thought. Remorse is a very powerful development engine, especially when remorse is felt intensely. This can lead to large areas in life being completely turned inside out. You would never do that without feeling deeply remorseful.

It always depends on what you do with the repentance. Younger people in particular can still change all sorts of things in life: I can put things right, clear up discrepancies in old relationships, etc. It is naturally bad if someone becomes paralyzed because of repentance. By that I mean that one cannot get out of repentance and becomes incapable of acting.

How can a decision be made if one is already afraid of possible regrets in advance?

Rieder: Before making a decision, there is nothing more you can do than bring your head and gut into harmony - never just make mental decisions or decisions purely on gut, they always belong together. What is my feeling telling me But then I also think it through. I can really stand behind such a decision. “I should have known that. I could have guessed that. ”- With such statements about ourselves, we all sometimes take on a little too much. Sometimes there is an information deficit that is just there. You cannot know everything in advance, every decision also involves a risk. We live in a time that also harbors its uncertainties, which can further encourage this fear: What is the global corporation doing next? Where are the jobs going?

Some people have an illusion of control: They assume that there is the only right decision and that decision has to be made. This is an illusion because you have no way of knowing how things will develop in the future. Suppose someone changes jobs because the future boss is so great. A few months later there is a change in leadership, the great boss is gone and everything is different. Nobody can foresee that. The decision to change jobs was therefore not wrong.

"We are also what we did not choose."

Briefly on the subject of making decisions: With the "Planned Happenstance Theory" by John Krumboltz, a Stanford psychologist, there is a very interesting theory about chance in career and life planning. He says that in professional life it is very often fortunate coincidences that determine where the path leads. Therefore, one should create optimal conditions for these coincidences and go through life very openly: approaching interesting people, attending events, having conversations. Just try it out and see what happens. That doesn't have to contradict a certain planning.

And as a regret, one last remark by the British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips: He gave birth to the comforting thought that whatever we want and what may not come true belongs to us as much as reality. What matters is what we don't choose - we lead a kind of double life. In retrospect, you might do some things differently, but then the decision had its logic. I think that is a reassuring aspect of this issue: we are also what we did not choose.

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