Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers ideas for maintaining your mental health.

Hindsight-Learning from the Past

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Aug 17, 2013 8:07 PM

A woman reviews her life. She thinks of all the things she would have done differently. Then, she thinks of some things she did right. If she had done one thing differently, everything else would have changed, then some of the wrong and right things wouldn't have happened. Could it have been different? Her friend says things always turn out the way they're "supposed to." Obviously, the friend is a fatalist. She thinks it's all preordained. In that case, each decision is obvious. Then, why analyze anything? Why think things through? Why learn from experience and figure out how to improve upon past decisions?

I don't subscribe to the school of fatalism. I don't think everything is preordained or that anything that happens is "the best that could have happened." To me, those are trite ways of avoiding responsibility. Well, maybe some events occur by chance or due to other people's actions, but we each control our own behavior and make our own decisions based on the parameters we understand. Even if the decision is a passive one, not to do something because it's too hard or to make a decision by default, letting the "chips fall where they may," it's still a choice.

That's why learning from hindsight, analyzing what went wrong and how things could have been different isn't time wasted. It's not necessary to obsess over and over, but just to get some basic insight, wisdom and perspective for the future. Then, the idea to to try not to repeat the same mistakes, not to go through life blindly letting one event lead to another, but to choose carefully who to be and how to act. Let the ensuing sense of basic values and integrity be the guide.

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