Making a Decision: Controlling the Choice or its Consequences?

Making a Decision: Controlling the Choice or its Consequences?

Regrets are inevitable. Armed with this knowledge, some people decide that they will live their lives despite the possibility of regrets while others embrace remorse by considering them to be a part of life. Yet others fear regret; they are afraid of making the wrong choice and drown in anxiety. Many of these people do not realize that most choices we make in life do not fit neatly into categories of “right” or “wrong”. Would taking a job after graduation be more right than going to college? Would it be more wrong to eat the chocolate right after dinner rather than wait for a couple of hours? Would it be more right to follow your rational mind than your emotional heart?

An annoying consequence of fearing regret is that you become incapable of making decisions on your own. You delay making choices or avoid them altogether. You’re so afraid of making the wrong choice, you’d rather let someone else make the decision for you. This means that you don’t have to shoulder the guilt if things go wrong. But, you cannot run forever. Eventually, your demons catch up with you and you have no choice but to make that decision in front of you. One must ask then, is a life guided by the fear of regret a truly meaningful one?

It’s okay to fear making the wrong decision. Fear is, after all, an emotion that you cannot control. Allowing it to control your life is a different matter. If you think about it, what you fear is not something in the present but in the future. As people who insist on using science as a medium of learning about the world, we get wrapped up in cause and effect. Simply put, this means that we know every choice we make has consequences, whether good or bad. Owing to our overarching fear of uncertainty, we scramble for any shred of control we can possess. Since we cannot govern the consequences of a choice, we try to exploit the choice itself. We believe that controlling the choice allows us to control its consequences. Ask yourself this: is that really true? Can we truly control something that has not even happened yet?

There is no way to know what will happen in the future. You have to live it to know it. This is not to say that thinking about the future is irrelevant; this is simply a cautionary note against focusing on the future alone. Make that choice. There’s no way to say if you’ll regret it or if life would’ve been better if you’d made a different choice. In that moment, you made a choice as the person you were then. As you evolve over seconds and hours and days and months, don’t let the “changed” you in the future determine whether that choice was right or wrong. You did your best. Be kind to the past you who made a “wrong” choice and be kind to the present you who’s facing a difficult choice.

You’ll never really know the other side of the coin. Let it go.

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