This week I saw Paddington 2, who was a great favourite for me as a child. Paddington always tries to do the right thing, but it does not always work out the way he intended, despite his best intentions there is often a less than perfect outcome. Do we therefore deduce that his choice of action was wrong? Was he wrong to try and stop the burglar, because he was ultimately mistaken for the thief?
Martin Lewis, the ‘Money Saving Expert’ makes a useful distinction, that we can make a good decision, and yet still have a poor outcome. None of us is blessed with a crystal ball and hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it cannot be used to retrospectively judge a decision. If we make a considered decision to the best of our ability, with all the information we can access at the time, we have made the best decision available to us at that point. This cannot however protect us from a potentially negative outcome. Yet many will engage in rumination and self-blame trying to reverse time, wishing they had chosen differently. This can never resolve the situation and we need to separate the decision from the outcome. The Paddington Principle states that we can still make good decisions and suffer bad outcomes. It may still be the right decision to invite the family for the holidays, even if on the day you may wish you hadn’t!
When have you spent time and energy in regret and blame for a decision that seemed right at the time?
What do you need to say to yourself when such situations arise?
How do you ensure that your decisions are as good as you can make them at the time?