What’s on Our Minds: “Taking it Back”—Overcoming a Regretted Decision

Over the thousands of decisions that we make each day—some very superficial in nature (like whether to drink juice or water with breakfast) or some potentially more substantial (ride my bicycle or drive to work), we know that impulsivity, uncertainty and complexity can lead us to make bad decisions.  Even if we didn’t realize it at the time.

Some decisions we can regret instantly….like spewing deliberately hurtful words in an argument, but for others, only hindsight brings clarity to how our decisions affected follow-on events. But whether it’s an immediate forehead slapping realization—or an eye-opening awareness gained over time—our choices can have us asking:


How do you move forward when you can’t take a decision back?


Why It Matters


The decisions we regret can sometimes stay with us the longest, and can have really negative effects on our health. Regret can take on a form of prolonged stress, harming our mind and body, and send us down a pathway of rumination.  While there are some decisions with permanent consequences, a pathway to redeeming poor judgement can be found through asking for forgiveness—-and/or forgiving ourselves.

While this is almost always easier said than done, a sincere “I’m sorry” and/or working through self-reflection can bring about self-acceptance and blunt the sting of mistake—especially one we have trouble letting go of. As humans, the reality is that we all make some bad decisions every day.  Forgiveness is not a free pass to keep making that bad decision again and again…but it is important to not let the guilt weigh us down.


Something to Think About


Poor decision making can create adversity for ourselves and others, but it can lead to growth as well. When we reflect on a regretted decision, even when we were convinced that our choices were justified and we defended them over long periods of time, we can still grow by learning from our errors.  And make better decisions in the future built upon our new understanding. This should serve as yet another reminder of the value of deliberate self-reflection in the resilience building process.


Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from making bad decisions.

- Mark Twain