Hindsight Is 20/20

Learn To Disarm Your Inner Critic And End Regret

We all know about our inner critic, that voice that makes you second guess your decisions by saying “your not enough or not good enough. It isn’t as invincible as it seems.

How many times have you made a plan, and gotten swept up in an impulse buy, or extravagant purchase, then lived to regret the decision? There’s a reason for the expression “buyers remorse.” What about all the things you said to love ones in the heat of the moment that you wish you could take back? Did you have relationships in your teens or 20s and later wonder how you could have even gone out with that person? Do you sometimes look at the calendar and regret booking yourself so solid and saying yes to all those projects?

Who haven’t made a decision and later wish they had done something different? It seems to be part of life. It’s bad enough to feel you made the wrong decision. As bad as that is, it’s even worse when your critic doesn’t let you forget you “messed up” because you moved to quickly, taking a job that went bankrupt, but stock and losing your butt, or chose a crazy person to date. How long have your credit being berating you for the decision you made years ago how much unnecessary pain of that caused?

Regret is one of the stickiest places in my own psych. I critic has been quite vocal about all the supposedly incorrect decisions I’ve made in the past, which makes it harder to make a clear decision without fearing the critics wrath. “What if I’m making the wrong choice?” I hear my mind today, in anticipation of an upcoming dilemma.

Is The Critic Ever Right?

You can see the critic has a valid point, given our less-than-lucrative attempts we’ve made in life. The problem, however, is what’s implied in its critique: shame, guilt, and the assessment that you are failure with everything you’ve done. Challenging thing about the critics attacks it is emotional legacy they leave behind no such as fear and paralysis when it comes to making choices, and a sense of inadequacy.

Since the critic always has an unfair advantage of 20/20 vision, it’s easy for it to dole out judgments about past choices regarding money, career, or relationships and any other circumstance in our lives. It’s not hard in hindsight, to say what you should or shouldn’t have done, what would have been a smarter choice regarding a situation.

Hindsight gives us the perspective we just don’t have when, making a decision. And it is pointless, if not downright unfair, to blame ourselves in hindsight. Learning from past errors, is of course necessary. But the blame and shame game is unnecessary and unhelpful.

Sometimes the critic thinks that if it berates us enough, we won’t make the same mistake again. In my experience, this is really true. No matter how much my inner critic judges me for moves I’ve made in the past, it doesn’t help with the next decision. In fact, the critical gauge meant make it more difficult to make a good decision in the future, because they cloud our thinking with fear and hopelessness about the decision making process.

There is no necessarily right or wrong decision. What seems like a good thing at the moment may be a bad thing from another perspective or vice versa.

It is important to remember that we try to do our best when we can with the information and resources at hand. That’s true of every decision we’ve ever made, no matter how bad it turned out to be. If we could have done better, would have done so. It doesn’t help to thrash ourselves for not knowing better, we have to get ourselves the benefit of the doubt. Understand this is very liberating, it frees us from the torment of re-crimination.

You Gotta Let Go

The ability to let go help as migrate the force of the critic, which, like other aspects of the ego, wants and need’s control. The inner critic believes if it can control things, it can manage to situations so we get what we need and avoid what is threatening. However, there are far too many factors outside of our control, you know, for sure which way our circumstances will go. If we all had a crystal ball, we could make better choices, but we don’t have that luxury.

Instead of life, demand that we put our stake in the ground, make our choice, and do our best to meet whatever actually happens. Of course, we would like a particular outcome, but we don’t need to chastise ourselves when things don’t go our way. Ideally, we practice letting go of trying to control experiences, situations, and people because we realize that is never really possible anyway. We have to crush that we made the best decision we could at the time, we see what happens, and we learn. And if necessary, we let go.

It’s important to stress that regrets result from 20/20 hindsight are not easy to be with. They are unpleasant, and made worse by our aversion to both the feeling and memory that triggers it. The experience is felt as a heaviness in the body. In the mind, we may feel it as fogginess or torrent of self judging thoughts. Emotionally we may notice it as a contraction of the heart.

The challenge, with a difficult experience, like regret, is to have the courage to pay attention close to it and feel itm without the additional layer of self-reproach. When we can get to the root of regret, and separate the critic from the experience, we fully learn from our actions. Then we can have genuine remorse, where we see the error of our ways and form, and intention not to go down the same road again.

This brings freedom that is not dragged down by the burden of chastising ourselves.

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