A fear of regret can lock us into bad relationships, jobs and habits - here's how to break free - Deepstash
Managing Perfectionism

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Managing Perfectionism

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The fear of regret

Being afraid of regret is a powerful driver of maintaining the status quo in our lives.

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The “disposition effect”

It's a bias related to money and it describes how investors hold on tight to losing assets. The driving force behind this behavior is our fear of regret.

It shows we are very hesitant to sell an asset at a loss and we tend to hang on to it as it keeps dropping in value, hoping it will pick up again.

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The “sunk cost bias”

When starting new projects, we tend to have high expectations of them doing well. We put a big amount of effort into them and even if see they don't go that well, we still choose not to opt-out. Instead, we hang on them longer, because we feel regret of leaving a project before it materializes.

We therefore fall into the trap of irrationally hanging on to it in order to avoid regret temporarily. 

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Love and the "sunk cost bias"

Too many people hang on to relationships that they well know are going nowhere.

Ending a relationship puts us in the situation to admit we have made a mistake and it makes us experience regret. So to avoid regret, we convince ourselves that as we have come so far with the relationship, we should give it another chance, despite knowing there hardly is any hope.

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The science of regret

Regret is important in our lives because it facilitates the process of learning from our mistakes and avoiding repeating them.

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The brain and regret

Brain imaging helped identify the neural circuits that are involved when we feel regret.

A substantial activity is taking place in the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory. Also,  experiencing regret and being scared of feeling regret involve very similar neural circuits – indicating that fearing regret is actually practically the same as experiencing regret. 

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Loss aversion

It's our tendency o focus on losses rather than gains. 

That makes people who are more prone to feel regret less likely to take risks.

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Tackling fear of regret

  • Start by assessing how regret really is affecting you.
  • Always be aware that while making a change always involves a risk it is equally risky to do nothing.
  • Remember that regret keeps us tied to the past.
  • Seek help and allow yourself to be advised by others.

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