The only thing worse than making a terrible decision is sticking with the decision just because you made it in the first place.
This phenomenon can range anywhere from picking up a pack of cigarettes (even though you’ve been trying to quit) and having a “f*ck it, I already bought them, so may as well smoke them ’til they’re gone” mentality, to staying in a terrible relationship just because you’re in it, even though you know its toxic and potentially killing your health.
The thing about making bad decisions is: we can always make another one.
On a pitch-black night, in the middle of an unfamiliar country’s terrain, I made a stupid, mindless decision after a grueling, long day. All I wanted was to be barefoot, have a shower, and get in bed.
I’d parked my car at the bottom of a mountain during the day, while we were shuttled up to our camping grounds. The shuttle had stopped running by the time I was ready to leave, so I walked about a mile down the wrong road, anticipating my car being there.
By the time I realized it was the wrong road, I knew I’d be walking about three miles all together in the pitch black. A part of me truly wanted to just lie down and cry, because I’m not a fan of being in the woods alone at night—but I’d found myself there, and there was only one way out to my desired destination. I’d have to walk my ass back a mile to the main road—plus, half a mile to the road I was supposed to be on, and then another mile down that road to my car.
This is the simplest of examples, but it’s clear to me that when we feel swallowed by our perceived bad choices—whether it’s taking a job that we now realize isn’t a fit for us, or befriending the girl who ends up lacking integrity, but we keep her around anyway because it’s the “nice thing to do,” or we are half a box of cookies down in the middle of a binge—it’s easy to feel engulfed by the circumstances we’ve created for ourselves.
It may feel easier to sit down, cry, and wish someone else would swoop in and save us from ourselves (or take our cookies, or offer us a miraculous new job, or change our friend’s personality), but the truth is—we can turn it around ourselves, right from where we are.
Rather than wallowing in our bad decision, we can move forward, heading in the direction of the next decision–and make it a good one.
When we make a bad decision, we don’t have to let it own us, just because we made it. We may be afraid of what might happen if we “unmake” the decision—the feeling of not having the cigarettes or the cookies, the backlash of leaving the relationship, the uncertainty of not having another job—but when we’re constantly questioning if our decision was a “bad” one, we just end up spinning our wheels and making ourselves feel crazy.
It’s time we step into the zone of what “the right decision” feels like and get moving in the direction of it, rather than sitting and weeping about how terrible of a decision we may have made.
We have the power to make our own decisions—which means we also have the power to undo or redo any of the decisions we’ve already made.
If you find yourself wallowing in misery over a bad decision, rather than changing it, it’s time to walk back out the door you came through—and maybe even let it hit you in the ass, so you know not to walk through it again.
But, whatever you do—do not squander your days away, lamenting over a bad decision just because you made it. Life is far too marvelous to get stuck wallowing over what’s wrong, rather than creating more of what feels right.
Author: Stacy Hoch
Image: Flickr/Holly Lay
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Callie Rushton