Why do you particularly regret what you didn’t do?

Why do you particularly regret what you didn’t do?

The explanation lies in the fact that different psychological mechanisms operate with these two sources of regret. When we decide to do something – make a bold career move or start an affair – we feel intense regret once it turns out that the choice was unwise. So we do everything we can to reduce this painful feeling. We go to a therapist or relationship coach and look for the positive aspects. The experience was painful, but also educational.

When we decide not to do something – we do not initiate education, we do not show our feelings to someone we love – exactly the opposite happens. Choosing not to act at first leads to only minor regret, but it increases over time. In our imagination, our lives would have been more enjoyable if we had… After all these long years, we can no longer remember all the obstacles that held us back at that time. Our decision seems increasingly incomprehensible.

Thus, the effect of time on regret is twofold. The things we shouldn’t have done are a thing of the past. Things we could have done better remain a constant source of regret.

Want to learn more about regret? In the latest issue of The soul and the brain You can read all about the benefits of those painful feelings (and when remorse isn’t effective). Order now via tijdschriftenwinkel.be

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