Have you ever made a bad decision?
Not necessarily recently, but maybe "back in a day"? And if yes, how did you cope with it?
Did you forget about it and moved on? Or are you still regretting the mistakes you've made in the past, and you go on the endless replay to torture yourself subtly, yet constantly?
If you are somewhere close to the latter, I have something for you! In this brief article, you will (hopefully) learn how to cope with your bad decisions in a constructive way.
In simple words, I'll tell you how to "fuck it and then rock it".
You will make bad decisions and that's a given
We, humans, are simply incapable of making the right decisions 100% of the time. It's simply unachievable /I am not the greatest mathematician on the planet, but it is apparently even statistically impossible/. And you know what? Thank god! Otherwise, we would not have an opportunity to learn and grow as humans.
We need to fail from time to time and we need to appreciate our failures, as these are the moments that force us to reflect, regroup and learn. In the end of the day, it’s not about the decision itself; it’s what you make out of it that counts.
If you're not convinced, listen to Salma #IRestMyCase
5 Steps to forgive yourself and move on from a Bad Decision
Please think about a decision - any decision - that you have taken in the last days, weeks or years, and you could consider as "a wrong one".
Still kind of stinks? Then try to take that little bitch by the storm and drag her over the next 5 steps.
1. Acknowledge and Accept: It was wrong and it sucked
The first step - and that's a really important one, as without it you cannot go any further - is to realize that you’ve made a bad decision in a first place.
Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, not for everyone. There are people who are simply incapable of admitting to themselves that they have made a mistake. Reasons may be different: ego, pride, and inability to admit that we were wrong are usually the typical ones.
Plus, accepting that you did something wrong, automatically forces you to think about it and to make a potential change.
And we humans are very often allergic to change.
Grow the strength in you to face it and admit it. Accept that we all make bad decisions and that’s totally normal.
2. Forgiveness: I had a right to make a mistake
Yes, it was a bad decision but we already agreed that bad decisions are a part of human experience, right?
Forgiving yourself is a stage when many people get stuck.
Firstly, there is a lot of this "anti-constructive bullshit" that runs through your head: "How could I be so stupid", "I was careless", "I was an idiot", "I should have known better", "I was hesitating too much", "I was a coward"...
Ok, I get it; you need to release some steam and as you were - in fact - the decision maker it's kind of logical that you would criticise and insult yourself. But come on dude, have some limits! One or two sessions of self-beating with KO is perfectly enough. Absolutely nothing good comes out of you putting yourself down any longer than that. That's just pointless because IT WON'T CHANGE ANYTHING.
Except, that it will make you feel even worse.
Realize that when you made that decision you had all the best intentions: you wanted to be happy and you definitely didn’t plan to hurt or negatively influence anyone around you.
Repeat to yourself: “I made the best decision with the information I had at that time”
Forgive yourself and move on.
You are a human and you are entitled to make a fucking mess once in a while.
3. Redemption and Clean-up
By now, you have accepted that you've made a mistake and even managed to forgive yourself for it.
Way to go. But please don't stop here! Now it’s time for an action.
We've already agreed that you cannot change the past and you cannot re-take your decision. But you can control the impact your decision has on you and on your environment by actively cleaning up after yourself.
Now it’s a time to apologize and compensate.
If you haven't done it yet, approach those who might have felt any shitty consequences of your bad decision: your partner, kid, parent, friend or whomever else was affected. Express remorse for any negative impact it had on them. It’s not only about the apologies but also for showing that you are aware you've messed up. Be open and honest about it – it requires courage and vulnerability but it's so god damn worth it.
At the same time, start making an active effort to get out of the situation, your bad decision has put you in. For instance, if it's a job that you hate (like in Julienne's case), start figuring out how to quit it. Instead of staying idle in this situation, make an endgame plan.
Some of us will cling to our bad choices only to punish ourselves: “I deserve this. I made a bad decision so now I have to pay consequences”. Well, that’s bullshit. You have already paid your dues; now it’s time to make a new decision.
4. Lessons Learned
Rethink the decision-making process and try to answer these questions:
What could I have done better?
Was there anything that I’ve overlooked?
Was I too impulsive? Did I follow "my heart" without checking in with the reality?
Or quite the opposite: Did I plan and overthink too much? Did I kill my gut feeling, my sparkle or my true desires by over-rationalizing?
Did I allow others to put a pressure on me? Was I lead by fear? Was I trying to please others?
Or maybe I was too selfish or inconsiderate?
Can I react better next time when I realize I’ve made a wrong decision?
Can I forgive myself faster?
Can I start to clean-up quicker?
5. Change the game
Personally, this is the part that I love the most.
You are the game-maker of your life. Every single day you get a new chance to completely change your life and to make new decisions that will overwrite the old ones.
The irony is, the biggest obstacle in changing your life situation IS YOU.
So many times we choose to use all kind of bullshit excuses to stay exactly where we are: at the job we hate, in relationships that we don’t want to continue or simply in a situation that doesn't make us happy. And we are damn creative in inventing all the reasons to stay unhappy and miserable because we are either afraid, insecure or feel obliged to do what others expect us to do.
It's difficult to rewire your attitude "just like that" but if one day you feel ready to give it a try, start with something really small.
Make one rather insignificant decision that will go against the "normal" you: Pick something new for breakfast that you haven't tried before or chose a different way to work. Make a decision that is easy to correct in case you don't like the outcome, but for god sake, just make it! Train yourself in taking little risks. It will do you good.
We are not born to be passive.
We are born to learn how to create the best life for ourselves and squeeze the most out of it. We do it through our decision and choices and if we fail from time to time it is fucking normal. "Bad decision" is your greatest teacher.
But only if you let it.