Right or Wrong?
I wish I had done THAT differently!
Then we would be better off today!
In the political discussion of recent months, I have observed a tendency to re-evaluate decisions made in the past, but with knowledge of today’s world situation. In the process, what was right is often re-declared as wrong.
I am concerned about this development because it assumes that a different decision back then would, with certainty, have led to the right results today.
The frequently heard sigh of relief, „If only I had done THAT differently, I would be better off today! However, the assumption that things would be better today is risky. The person who lets out this sigh assumes a linear causal chain that does not exist in this world.
The effects of an alternative decision then on the situation now remain unknown to us because the moment of the decision has passed and cannot be repeated.
Reviewing a decision must be done based on the situation under which it was made.
To do it based on the situation today indicates ignorance of the complexity of contexts. We should be fairer with our elected decision-makers about suspected past mistakes.
The question of the correctness or incorrectness of past actions and decisions also plays a role in coaching and counselling. There, too, we also observe the bad habit of blaming themselves or people around them for having done THE WRONG thing at the time. (This is to be strictly distinguished from the case where someone has done SOMETHING WRONG in the past, for example, beating his wife!)
The self-reproach, „If I hadn’t quit the job then!“ is understandable but fruitless:
- In coaching, it is much more important to work out what good reasons led the complainant to his decision.
- Another critical question is what has changed for him today, so he evaluates the situation differently at that time.
- We need to talk about what advantages he can gain from it in the future.
I believe that everyone can judge right from wrong, even considering different circumstances of place and time.
You, too, can do this or learn to do it if you listen to your feelings with appreciation and interest.
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