Why do we often experience regret? A psychological counselor once shared a story:
There was a visitor who was particularly prone to regret. She often said to the counselor, “If only I had known earlier, I would have…” This phrase permeated various aspects of her life:
When she had conflicts with others, she would only think of better ways to respond afterwards – “If only I had known, I should have responded like this!”
She would sometimes yield to unreasonable demands from colleagues and then feel regretful afterwards – “If only I had known, I should have refused.”
It is often said that women make good teachers, so she chose to study education just to go with the flow – “If only I had known I had no interest, I wouldn’t have chosen it…”
It was as if her feelings were always lagging behind, and she often realized her true needs only after the fact. As a result, she would often blame herself for being slow and foolish.
But is this really the case?
After in-depth counseling, we discovered that the visitor only experienced such situations when there was a collision between “my needs” and “others’ needs.” When we traced the roots, we found that her parents had a strong desire for control and had taught her from an early age to “be obedient and well-behaved.”
When she complied, her parents would praise and reward her. When she said “no,” her parents would become unhappy and even punish her. In order to be loved and accepted, she became accustomed to passively accepting arrangements and suppressing her self-awareness.
Gradually, a pattern of “altruistic” thinking emerged. When making choices, she subconsciously prioritized the environment and others’ opinions, while placing her “self” at the bottom.
But how could an adult lack free will?
As a result, she often became aware of the need to “protect herself” only after “making mistakes,” leading to feelings of regret and self-blame.
Those who always feel slow in their reactions, prone to impulsive regrets, and even those with exceptionally high “approval ratings” often have issues with “self-loss.”