Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself – No experience is wasted

 In Better Life, Negative emotions

Have you ever made a decision that you later regretted?  Maybe it was a job you took (I have a couple of those!), a group you joined, or even a person you dated.  In fact, maybe you’re stressing over a choice you have right now.  I’ve seen this with young friends who are feeling the pressure to decide what college to attend or what major to choose.  Which is the right choice and which is the wrong one for their best future?  Nobody wants to waste a bunch of time traveling down the wrong path.

Here’s another way to look at it.

Past Decisions:

You can’t change past decisions.  For whatever reason, it probably seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  However, you can change the way you think about it.  Instead of feeling regret or remorse, shift your perspective and realize that your choice gave you something important:

  • Experience – You gained new skills, wisdom, and insights about yourself and about the world to help you with future choices.
  • Connections – You likely met new people with new ideas, and you had an influence on people you encountered along the way.
  • Growth – You grew as a person, building character and resilience so you’re better prepared for future challenges.

Current Decisions:

Don’t get too stressed about a current decision.  If the choice is difficult, chances are they’re all good options.  We often think one choice must be better than another, but many times we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves.  Even if we later think we should have made a different choice, we can remind ourselves that we will learn, grow, and gain new connections from our current path.  No experience is wasted.

In the past few months, I’ve had a couple conversations with people lamenting over past mistakes they’ve felt they made with their lives.  I point out that those “mistakes” have helped them learn how to make better choices and have shaped their thinking and the opportunities and possibilities they now see.

What past choices do you regret that have actually been important stepping stones to lead you to where you needed to be?


Tina Hallis, Ph.D., is founder and owner of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping individuals and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures.

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