Psychology

Hindsight and its Effects on Confidence



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How often have you looked back on significant moments which mattered to you and uttered the immortal comment: "I should have done so and so. I wish I hadn't done that"

We all replay events inside our head, desperately searching to resolve them with perfect action. Yet the biggest obstacle to greater achievement and a feeling of confidence is the curse of hindsight. People who lack confidence are always prone to looking back to what they have done, either regretting their actions or wishing they had not done certain things in certain ways. This is a pointless exercise which merely reduces self-esteem even further and solves nothing in the process.

You cannot ever change the past. You have to learn from it and let it go. Brooding over it negatively merely fuels the flames of discontent and the feelings of inadequacy, turning your future dreams into ashes. How can you make a better future if you are locked in the past trying vainly to undo the impossible in your head? It is a massive waste of good energy and it stifles creativity.

We ALWAYS act according to the moment, which means that we do what we genuinely believe is right at THAT given time. We might act in haste, or without the full facts to guide us, but that is only ever revealed afterwards. In your assessment, what you did was the only possible option given your confidence, experience, resources, training, maturity, knowledge and, above all, your mood. That is why some people commit crimes one moment that they would not dream of doing in another those awful mood swings of low esteem and desperation. Nothing else was possible at that time, otherwise you would have done it. Ten weeks later, when you are more aware (your knowledge has improved), you feel much calmer and more positive and you view the matter differently, is no time to judge your past actions harshly. It is foolhardy and serves little purpose except to make you out to be 'worse' than you are.



Being Proud of What We Do
We can decide to change our approach in the future, but we do nothing positive by chastising ourselves for our actions in the past. Neither is it constructive. It merely leads to self-doubt and self-deprecation. The main thing to remember is that if we could have done it differently, we would gladly have done so. Just because you are more mature and confident now doesn't mean you spend your time berating that younger, greener individual who took those decisions when he/she didn't have your current maturity and experience. A truly futile exercise that is. With all those unpredictable factors mentioned earlier, we should always be proud of what we do because it is an acknowledgment that we are ideal at that moment in time until we gain more knowledge, maturity, experience, etc. Then we move to another level of excellence then. We should never be ashamed of whatever we do because it is all a necessary part of our evolution and our learning process.

This curse of hindsight mainly affects perfectionists who want things done in a perfect manner. It means that no matter what they attempt, even though it might be fantastic, it is never enough to please them. In their eyes, it should have been just so. They could always have improved upon it, they mistakenly think. Maybe now, but NOT back then. Their sense of perfection blinds them to accepting the nature of their developing talents and their need to make mistakes to realise those talents. Instead, they spend their lives wishing they had not done certain things, instead of revelling in their blessings and acknowledging that those 'mistakes' actually cemented the unique people they are and brought them to their current position.

It is perfectly right to savour the wonderful moments we had in the past, and to review them from a position of strength and learning. But to spend a life regretting any action at all, or blaming others, simply because experience has taught us better, is to tempt fate. Everything done already helps to mould our unique personalities, so individual experience should not be used to continually regret what cannot be changed. Instead, it should make future actions far more enjoyable and rewarding because our maturity would enable us to appreciate where we are coming from.



Living in the Present
Finally, if one is regretting something which happened years ago, we would not be able to replace past actions with current ones because the age would be different, the morals and ethical codes would be different, people's behaviour would be different and the way the world is perceived would be very different from now, which would make your new solution entirely inappropriate for the time and expectations. Imagine going back to the time of Galileo hundreds of years ago to tell them that the earth was actually round because you know better! Religious fanatics would probably make sure you were burnt at the stake as a witch/warlock! They were wrong about the earth being flat but it was for them to begin the exploratory process in that and for another age to finish it. Just the same with medicine and science. Nothing can be done all at once. That's how we evolve, one small step at a time.

So the best advice for a confident life is to live in the present. Appreciate your past with pride and prepare to have an awesome future!

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More about this author: Elaine Sihera

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