Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Our life is composed of decisions, every time we are faced with something that needs our attention we usually have to take a decision, we have to learn how to take into account many factors involved in that decision and we have to be able to produce an emotion that helps our internal self core to decide for the best choice, of course we would love to usually decide for the best result and we never expect to regret the decision.
However, many times, we end up thinking that we didn’t choose the best choice and that’s when the feeling of regret comes along, just allowing your mind to go to that feeling will trigger neural mechanisms to activate a process called rumination, which is mainly the over repeating pattern of thoughts which start raising our cortisol levels, our blood pressure starts elevating and our threat system start signalling our whole doy as if we had some kind of of real threat, meaning that this overall picture inside our body will lower our metabolism, our immune system and even starts to numbing our prefrontal cortex which is in charge of allowing ourselves to think clearly (1).
Whenever we start the decision process, we immediately activate emotions, past experiences and many times we allow our mind to go to comparison neural processes which instead of helping us to take a better decision we end up feeling overwhelmed and probably disappointed that we don’t have the tools to act according to what we would have expected.
Why does making a decision involves so many variables and then what to do to decide more assertively in our lives?
Many people that are used to deciding recklessly and impulsively, often blame any external factors for the decision they made, when in fact the same system that they constructed to decide their lives will create a toxic cycle of those negative emotions that will perpetuate the negative scenarios and will in fact make everything seem more complicated than it is.
Allowing ourselves to practice visualization techniques will in fact help us create a more coherent picture of what we want to happen in our lives, creating a more complete picture of the things that accompany that decision is what will really make our decisions to become easier.
A simple construct to start allowing your decision to have a better end result is the one proposed below:
Gather all the information you need to help your brain guide you through the decision;
Start creating a visualization process in your mind that gives you the expected result you wanted it;
Be humble to also see the different choices that you will obtain in order to avoid most of the disappointment in case of not getting what you want;
Always have deep in the background the scenario where things fall to the opposite side and create a back up plan to feel better than an unexpected result.
Your future reality, your life as an adult (if you’re still young), your life when you retire, the way you want to spend your days, the things that you want to have freedom to do, the access of opportunities that you want to give to your children, the way you want to celebrate your marriage or simply the way you want to celebrate with your spouse/husband, the way and the places you want to still visit, in fewer words create that bucket list that you want to tick before you pass to another dimension, while you inhabit this physical world you still can do plenty of things and change the ones that maybe when you didn’t know how you decided “poorly” or recklessly.
One of the many loopholes that people don’t realize is that plenty of things they now secretly regret about how they’re living their lives is simply because they never care enough about designing a formal plan about the things that they wanted to do.
They simply stopped dreaming, imagining the things that they wanted, and letting that childish divine quality to expand, to grow and to harness the power into the design of their lives.
There will be downs, of course they will be some disappointments along the way..Yes, nevertheless you will be awarded for most of your life, if you take the time to invest in the decisions that you still have to make, if you invest the time into designing a very simple map of the roads you want to walk and the experiences that you still want to have.
Decision outcomes often evoke emotional reactions. For example, one can be disappointed when finding out that the outcome of a chosen option is worse than what was initially expected, or one can feel regret upon discovering that one would have obtained a better outcome had one chosen another option. Of course, these emotional reactions influence our satisfaction with the obtained decision outcome, or, in other words, its utility. Thus, when buying a new mobile phone, the satisfaction or utility derived from that particular phone depends not only on the attributes of the phone itself but also on how it compares to the prior set expectations and the attributes of unchosen alternatives. This psychological process of comparing the obtained outcome with other possible outcomes has become known as counterfactual thinking (2).
Counterfactual thinking involves mentally mutating one or more aspects of a past event. It includes thoughts in which current reality is changed into what might, could, would, or should have been. By mentally simulating what happened and comparing it to what might otherwise have happened, an individual can come to an understanding of how reality came about. An individual can rerun what has happened, while changing aspects of his or her own actions, and see if, and how, this would have made a difference (2).
The emotional expectation and load that we put for an expected result will often be the amount of pain or joy of that the expectation will have on you, therefore allowing yourself to be more realistic than over optimistic will help you to be satisfied with your decisions, that of course doesn’t mean that you’re mediocre with your life or that you don’t want better things for yourself, that just means that you’re starting in this process to create more powerful and more constructed emotions that will lead you to a much better result.
How many times in your life you have had that experience that something you were eagerly expecting didn’t meet your expectations and instead of feeling good about it you are not even able to savor the moment, hence all the journey you traveled, the obstacles that your sorted out and the effort that you apply to obtain it or to be able to live it vanished so quickly that it even left you with a sour taste of the experience as well as giving you a very heavy load of emotions that will quickly start lowering your emotional state until you might even find yourself sadder or angrier than if you would have obtained that “thing” or had that “event”.
All this scenario was generated in you, simply because you used a comparative picture of the things you constructed in your mind, that most likely was over amplified, from what in reality you obtained. So, the “thing”, the encounter, the event is not the issue, the wrong input here was your super optimistic expectation that things were much better than you pictured, and this sometimes happens because we are just focusing on the rewards of things, the recognition of some event, or the pleasure that we want to obtain, but we completely lose track of the meaning that we were looking from that thing, experience or encounter!
What are the alternatives to create a more joyous outlook when deciding your life?
In addition to be able to design a much joyous and fruitful path towards the next years of your life, what are the tools that you can use to produce a nicer path, a nice road to travel?
For instance you could start practicing with one or two of the decisions that you did and you certainly think you could do it better, that you could have obtained a much better result from that decision, and you could also have had a different sequence of events that were triggered by that decision, now we are going to deconstruct the decision starting with the results.
In these simulations, one can also change aspects of the situation and examine whether these differences could have prevented something from happening, or would have promoted the occurrence of other events. In this way counterfactual thinking may influence an individual’s attributions for the current reality (2).
In addition to this influence on attributions, counterfactual thinking has also been shown to influence individuals’ emotional reactions to outcomes and events. For example, if one wins a small prize in a lottery, satisfaction with this prize is not always easily predicted. How satisfied one feels depends very much on which alternative to reality (or default) comes to mind. Where winning a larger prize is the alternative to reality, one would be less satisfied than if winning no prize at all is construed as the alternative. Thus, by constructing alternatives with which reality is contrasted, counterfactual thinking can influence the intensity of an emotional reaction; this has been referred to as emotional amplification (2).
Sounds appealing just by reading about it, can you imagine if you could start reframing your decisions to match the emotions you want to experience, that seems to the biological fact that occurs in our body when we align our mind what our heart, and with that we start producing a much more powerful outlook of our health, we start promoting our cells to have a congruent and coherent message that will in turn create an internal state of satisfaction and homeostasis (3).
This new paradigm can also be applied to the structure of your decisions, if we start thinking of the way we want to feel, and even going beyond that, if we start feeling happy, joyous, grateful about the things that we want in our lives, moreover about the things and the way our life is already, we are amplifying our emotions into a new vibrational field.
This new field, is the realm of gratitude, even if you sometimes or many times have decided your life recklessly, impulsively and now you have a life that might not seem what you expected, or what you would have wanted, it is your present life and I’m sure it has many things that you could be grateful for, seeing things from that perspective will start to change your outlook into a more productive state in order to access the future emotions and the future reality that you want to create!
To live, to create that future reality you need to embrace the present moments that you’re having, you can take impulse by visualizing what you want but experiencing the emotions in the now, allowing your inner tools (mind and heart) to work together, to create that perfect team that will eventually lead you to the result that you want.
Assign meaning to the experience, let the meaning be the GPS of your life, open your clarity and creativity, third eye, which is in this case would be your prefrontal cortex and then just flow with the sea of positive emotions that you have created, allow yourself to experience your internal synchronicity by letting the steps, by taking small changes and applying them immediately but giving space to consolidate your new identity.
An identity that will be constructed more and more over the ground of assertive decisions, in real expectations generated from coherence, in an optimistic outlook that now has a more solid ground, that now has a hard structured to fall back on as well as living in gratitude with every result that you have obtained, every decision that now has been taken with a lot more awareness.
Little by little with this new construct, you will start avoiding negative feelings such as regret and also in consequence feeling disappointment with your life, feeling that sense of despair that things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to, all of those negative valence feelings will gradually be disappearing just by engaging yourself in a more responsable act of acquiring clarity, promoting coherence and expanding the positive emotional load that you will have to carry from now on!
Regret and disappointment are related to social or moral norms to a much lesser extent than guilt and shame. These emotions are more utilitarian, that is, they are more related to the hedonic value of decision outcomes or events. This presumably is why disappointment and (in particular) regret have attracted so much attention in research on individual decision-making (2).
Appraisal theorists state that each emotion can be related to specific patterns of evaluations and interpretations of events (“appraisals”). Some theorists argue for a strong causal relationship between appraisals and emotions.
We found that the experience of regret could be differentiated from that of disappointment in that the former involves feeling more intensely that one should have known better, thinking about what a mistake one has made, feeling a tendency to kick oneself and to correct one’s mistake, wanting to undo the event and to get a second chance. We also found that the experience of disappointment, more than that of regret, involves feeling powerless, feeling a tendency to do nothing and to get away from the situation, actually turning away from the event, and wanting to do nothing (2).
As found by research and stated above regret is often associated with not being careful with the decision we already took, not taking into account the variables that we knew could affect certain result and then of course feeling bad about it, trying to picture a second chance, which most of the times we in fact have! We all possess that ability to do the things, we might not able yet to change the past, but we certainly are able to do again the things and to learn from those experiences, to be more thoughtful and aware of all the factors involved in the decision!
However feeling disappointed for a prolonged time will often lead us to expand the sense of unworthiness and despair, most likely leading us to think that we are not good for something when in fact it was just the appraisal of things and the added value that we placed on that decision, so the message here is to lower the time, to lower the negative load of disappointment by changing the perspective to a learning setting, where we are able to see also the meaning on the negative experience and not just taking the role of victim that will only lead us to deeper sadness!
In summary, we possess the control of all the variables that allow ourselves to take better decisions, we just have to be able to really find the clarity in what we want, to relate to the meaning of the experience instead of just attaching value and creating expectations for the result, we can construct a more powerful setting and ground for those decisions by creating a coherent internal state lead by the heart and guided by a peaceful mind, not rushing important decisions and above all forgiving ourselves for the past mistakes, for the bad experiences even if we know we were completely responsible of them!
Keep the student attitude, keep learning how you can access your emotions, sensing more environment, returning more to the divine behaviors we had as a child and we sometimes lost in the way of pleasing some norms and standards that were not even created by us!
#decisions #power #creativity #clarity #coherence #heart #mind #possibility #outlook #tools #peace #emotions #attitude #joy #happiness #sad #rumination #regret #guilt #shame #disappointment #expectations #future #reality #creation #positive #Ortega #Zeelenberg #daveortegab
Ortega D. “Why do You Choose to Suffer?”. https://www.gen-es.mx/bloggenesmx. August 09th, 2019.
Zeelenberg, M., van Dijk, W. W., Van der Pligt, J., Manstead, A. S., Van Empelen, P., & Reinderman, D. (1998). Emotional reactions to the outcomes of decisions: The role of counterfactual thought in the experience of regret and disappointment. Organizational behavior and human decision processes, 75(2), 117-141.
Ortega D. “How Can You Synchronize your Heart and Brain?”. https://www.gen-es.mx/bloggenesmx. August 16th, 2019.