3 preconceived ideas about regrets

3 preconceived ideas about regrets

We have all felt regret at times when we imagine what our lives might have been like if we had done certain things differently. In their book “Overcoming the 7 emotions that ruin our lives”, authors Liz Fosselin and Mollie West Duffy deconstruct certain preconceived ideas, particularly about regrets.

According to psychologists, regret is described as a counterfactual emotion, that is to say a feeling that arises when we imagine what could have happened if we had made a different choice (the counterfactual). In their book “Overcoming the 7 emotions that ruin our lives” (SOLAR editions), the two authors Liz Fosselin, well-being expert and Mollie West Duffy, former researcher at Harvard Business School, allow us to deconstruct certain ideas received about these emotions and offer realistic tools to take care of our mental health. Here are 3 common ideas about regrets.

Misconception #1: You can live a life without regrets

According to the authors, a life without regrets does not exist. They also cite a study revealing that regrets are the emotion (after Love) most evoked in exchanges with our loved ones. We will all be faced with regrets one day or another, even if positive things happen to us. The authors thus give the example of a man having made a bet and having won a sum of money, he would have regretted not having bet more to win a bigger jackpot. The two experts also emphasize that pivotal moments in our lives are those most likely to bring us regrets. Indeed, a marriage, a new job or even a move, while they are generally positive, these changes also involve many personal questions and a renunciation of other possibilities. It would therefore be quite natural to wonder what our life would be like if we had made different choices.

Misconception #2: following your passion guarantees you will never have regrets

According to Liz Fosselin and Mollie West Duffy, regrets depend on what part of yourself you tap into. Psychologists estimate that we have three:

  1. The current self, that is, the person we are now;
  2. The ideal self, the most authentic and fulfilled version of yourself;
  3. The due self, the version of oneself that would meet all of society’s expectations.

Thus, each of these “self” profiles would experience regret. Who has never been in inner conflict over certain decisions. Yes, this job is wonderful but the salary is not what you expected. Or the opposite, the salary is incredible but you have to give up certain principles… According to the authors, research shows that overall if you have chosen a life in which your passion is omnipresent, you will have a greater chance of being happy but for all that, this will in no way prevent you from feeling certain regrets, especially if your passion is not in line with the version of yourself that would meet all of society’s expectations.

Good in his body, good in his head!

Received idea #3: you should always choose the option you will regret the least

We very often tend to think in the short term and therefore naturally choose an option that we think we will regret the least in the future. According to the authors, seeking to avoid having regrets in the hour, the day or month to come will tend to lead us down a path that we will regret even more in the long term. Moreover, this propensity to avoid immediate discomfort is called “status quo bias.” And yes, all change comes with risk and uncertainty; you just have to learn how to get started!