Regret and Fear Of Regret or Making The Wrong Decision
I’m sure we can all think about situations that we have been in where we have struggled to make a solid decision because we fear that we may regret it and that decision will be wrong for us or those around us. Often when I do depression counseling in Dubai and depression treatment in Dubai people feel trapped. This can be especially true with life changing decisions that inevitably will have a far bigger impact than what to do on the weekend. In my recruitment and career coaching days at the start of my career I coached many families as to whether an expat move would be good for them and the family. Now many come to me unsure whether they should stay in or leave their marriage, sometimes people come in love with two people and confused. I never (unlike some other marriage counsellors out there, tell a person what they should do) who am I to play God with their life. Instead I support people to work through the fears, resentment, see their needs and ideals clearly for them to have the clarity to move forward.
Now I want to point out that there is a huge difference between taking time to make an informed decision and putting off making decisions because you fear making the wrong one or having regrets. In fact, there is even a term for this type of fear – “Decidophobia” – which is defined as the extreme fear of making the wrong decision to the point where you may even suffer from panic attacks and more. It can also lead to a person feeling depressed, that they cannot make decisions and this can be a trigger some come for depression counseling in Dubai.
As an anxiety and depression counsellor in Dubai I have worked with countless individuals who have decided that they have had enough of not being able to make difficult decisions because they are paralysed by this extreme fear and find that they begin to avoid situations where they may be forced to make decisions. This fear of regret or making decisions can really have a negative impact on a person’s life as without making changes or decisions, life will never evolve or change for the better. Decision anxiety can be closely link with general anxiety also.
I will describe two different areas of life where I regularly help people who fear regret and making a decision to such an extent that it consumes them.
First let me share about Matt (name changed to protect identity) Matt came to me because he had been questioning his marriage for 7 years. He did not feel the sexual chemistry with his wife. According to him they lacked fun, passion and a real connection, it felt like since they started a family they were going through the motions.
He complained to me that everything she did was only centered on the children and he felt ignored. He also had to follow all of her parenting rules and didn’t feel he could be the Dad he wanted to be. All she focused on and talked about were their children. Matt felt her strict regimes made life uncomfortable and her energy was draining because she complained how tired she was all the time. Matt started to dread coming home after work. He was greeted with a to do list rather than any affection and warmth. Sometimes he felt like all his wife saw him as was an ATM machine and a handy man. He felt depressed and contacted me for depression counseling in Dubai.
Matt shared with me that he was confused. He told me that he had an affair with someone at his office, nothing serious and definitely not someone he wanted to be with long-term but someone when out on a work function he would end up going home with. He did not set out to cheat, it was a drunken conversation on relationships and sex that led him into bed with another woman that night and from then it became a monthly occurrence – whenever the office went out.
Matt was scared to talk to his wife, scared to end his casual fling (as he called it) scared to do anything. So, he did nothing and as time grew on his thoughts consumed him.
I pointed out to Matt that the huge distance in his marriage was his responsibility to take control of. That when someone complains they are tired or anxious about the children, they need empathy and positive words and not avoidance. Since he cheated he distanced himself further causing even more damage to the relationship as he then completely withdrew. He admitted that he barely touched or spoke to his wife about anything meaningful, he go home play with the children, eat and sleep.
For years Matt was consumed and confused as whether to end the marriage and to start a fresh. But he was so scared he might regret it. So he wanted to avoid it by moving to a new city or changing job, again so overwhelmed with fear of making the wrong decision and later regretting it, he did nothing. He stayed feeling trapped and desperately unhappy for 5 years.
Matt reached out to me to ask if I could guide him on what to do. He wanted me to help him make the decisions he had been obsessively thinking about for years. It made him feel anxious, stressed and depressed that he couldn’t move forward with his life.
I advised him that I cannot tell him what to do, however we can look at removing the fears, doubts, past emotions and increase his confidence in making decisions, so he could then decide what would be best for him.
Removing the fear and installing confidence would help him see things more clearly and be able to follow through one way or the other. After the 3 day breakthrough session with me, 2.5 hours each day for 3 days.
It became clear that he wanted to give the marriage a chance and put in the effort. He loved his wife and did admire what a great mother she was, so he decided that he would give it all he had for a full calendar year and see what he felt at the end. He knew he needed to see his wife as on his side rather than as someone against him.
Day 3 of the 3 day breakthrough program we set out an action plan, he ended the affair and started to work on rebuilding a connection with his wife. His wife then joined in with marriage counseling Dubai sessions, she saw a shift in him and also wanted to make their physical and emotional relationship much stronger.
What a lot of people can get blindsided by is that by not making a decision you are often making a decision and indecision has consequences too.
I often hear people saying I wish I reached out to you earlier for help, rather than stay stuck in my head for so long.
Now I will introduce Laura who also came for anxiety treatment Dubai and Depression Counseling in Dubai – her fear of regret affected an entirely different area of her life. Laura recently contacted me for a block of sessions after searching for an anxiety therapist in Dubai. She shared with me that she was suffering from severe anxiety and panic attacks because she was finding that she was her own worst critic. She was stopping herself from progressing professionally because she was always fearful of being unsuccessful or leaving a stable job that she felt secure in but that made her miserable.
She was one of the longest running employees at her workplace and had never been promoted because even when she was put up for higher positions, she would put off making a decision for so long that employers would retract their offers – taking the decision out of her hands.
Not only was her fear of regretting her decision stopping her from being promoted at work, but it was also impacting other areas of her life because she was also struggling to get out of her comfort zone when it came to dating. She was stuck in a relationship that was no longer making her happy but because she was worried that she wouldn’t find someone better she stayed with her partner. It was a much easier to stay in the relationship than to make a decision she may regret later on.
Researchers that have studied neural circuits in brain images have identified that the neural connections are very similar when we experience regret to when we are fearful about regretting something. This can explain why, for some, the fear of regret is enough to put them off from making a decision as it feels as bad as it does when you actually regret something.
There are so many reasons why people struggle to make decisions or fear regretting their decisions. It can lead people to seek depression counseling in Dubai and online. Let’s first look at how it affects a person’s life and what you can do if this applies to you or someone close to you…
Signs fear of regret or making the wrong decision is hurting you
- You find yourself stuck in dead end jobs and lose out on career progression. Your too scared to move jobs or ask for a pay rise.
- You talk negatively to yourself to stop yourself from making decisions and lack self-confidence.
- You miss out on exploring the world because you fear regretting your decision to travel to certain places.
- You miss the chance to meet amazing people – both in the romantic sense and platonic friendships, as your fear gets in the way.
- You risk not increasing your wealth because you are scared to make the necessary decisions to earn more or take calculated risks.
- You are in a relationship that is no longer bringing you any joy or fulfilment, because your too scared of making the decision.
There are some instances where people may be more at risk of Decidophobia, because of things they have been through in the past. For example, if someone has been brought up with little control over their life, perhaps their parents, culture or a romantic partner controlled everything and made all the decisions for them. Then then may find it difficult to take control of their own life. Plus if you made a decision in the past and it didn’t work out or you beat yourself up over it, it may scare you from making decisions in the future. Why? Because regret is repeated resentment towards yourself = it feels horrible and your mind will want to do everything to avoid that same pain again. So your subconscious mind will think it is doing you a favor warning you all the time about the pain of making the wrong decision and shares with you doubts, fears and concerns, if that makes sense?
There are also other factors which impact decision making and fear of regret, such as wanting to please people or being comfortable depending on others to make decisions for you. Some people are just naturally laid back and are happy for others to take the lead so that when they are forced to make a decision they really struggle. Not to mention, if the decision involves love or money, it can be really difficult as mistakes can mean losing money or love. None of us probably want to lose love and wealth, as it threatens our security and safety.
So, what can you do if you find yourself avoiding making decisions and have a fear that you will regret the decisions you need to make?
There are a few things you can start to incorporate into your daily life that will help decision making easier and reduce your fear of regretting a decision –
Practice – Make a conscious effort to take control and make small decisions. It could be simple things like deciding where to go for lunch with friends or where to go on the weekend. As you become more and more comfortable with the smaller decisions, you can build yourself up to more important decisions.
Assess the risks – Sometimes our thoughts can get the better of us and we can get locked into worse case scenario = dooms day. This is where it can be helpful to give yourself a reality check and also ask for support if needed to give you a reality check. There are risks in most things, to avoid all risk is not to live, get informed, get information and assess. If you are going to think about what might go wrong, think about what might go right = “what if” the best case happens. Write down the worse case and the best case make a long list of best cases. Be as honest as possible so that you are not only thinking about what could go wrong but all that can go right too. This will make you feel more confident in your decision, and you might realise even if things don’t work out, it’s actually not that bad at all. Then next to each worse case – list what actions you will take if it doesn’t go to plan.
Remind yourself there is no such thing as a wrong decision – They are just decisions. The only person judging is you. Even decisions that may not have worked out well we can learn from them. The decisions where I have lost money for example or trusted people that turned out to be unreliable. I accepted responsibility, moved on and changed my approach in the future. Like doing more research, getting references, in love being patient and less needy. When we turn negative experiences into future opportunities we grow. The fact is you can’t experience anything or learn things if you are not willing to take risks and make mistakes.
Know why you are making that decision – When we arm ourselves with the right knowledge, we need to make a decision on, we tend to feel better about it regardless of whether it works out or not. When you have confidence in that particular moment that something is good or right for you and you have your reasons set for why you think this, then there is nothing to deter you from going ahead and making that decision. To make an informed decision I recommend feeling or thinking a way for a period longer than 3-6 months and making sure you are not acting on high emotions and fear.
Ask others for information NOT ADVICE– It can be so helpful to speak out your thoughts with those that you trust. For example, if it’s a potential career or business move, speak to qualified career or business advisers, finance related, speak to someone you know who is doing financially well, If it’s about a romantic relationship, speak to a relationship expert or with someone who has a great relationship. Never ask what you should do, you need to take the responsibility for making your own life decisions.
Practice mindfulness – If you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks as a result of the fear of regret or making the wrong decision, it is so helpful to incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily life and exercise in silence is also good for shifting the thoughts. You will notice techniques such as deep breathing, Yoga and Tai Chi will help you silence the stream of unhelpful thoughts – leaving you feeling more at peace and your mind will be much clearer to make important decisions.
Don’t let fear control any area of your life, fear is natural we all have concerns, doubts and worries from time to time. However, if they are taking up way too much energy and head space for you right now where it is ruining your enjoyment of life. Get in touch, I help many people breakthrough their fears, increase confidence so they can choose the right path for themselves. I also help those that need depression counseling or anxiety treatment in Dubai
Sometimes I also do a relationship analysis with individuals or couples to see their compatibility and to help them release the baggage of the past. I’d love to help you open your life up to so much more, so do join the facebook group relationships and wellness with Nicola Beer in the group we all support and learn from one another, I am creating new videos for you every week in their too or topics you suggest.