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Why do I constantly wonder about what could have been?

15 Answers
Last Updated: 01/19/2021 at 5:55pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United Kingdom
Moderated by

Lisa Meighan, MSc Psychology


Hello, I am Lisa and I work in a person-centred approach mixed with cognitive behavioural therapy. I believe we all have the potential to be the best we can be.

Top Rated Answers
January 14th, 2015 1:53am
Because you are not focusing on where you are now. When you believe in yourself, your regrets will have less of a hold on you.
January 5th, 2016 12:30pm
You are living in the past and often this feeling leaves levels of regret. Maybe you don't take life by the horns and don't do what you truly want to do. All I can say is maximize your opportunities and do thing that will genuinely make you happy, right this moment and maybe you will stop living with shoulda, coulda, wouldas!
October 28th, 2019 5:25pm
It's hard to let go of the past sometimes, because we like to think back on how it has shaped us for who we are today. That being said, past events are both good and bad and as human beings we are "cognitive misers". This means we take in so much information, that we can only remember a fragment of what has already happened. In other words, we end up focussing on only the good parts and so much the bad parts. However, I want you to think this: what you did back then was based on the information you had back then. Think of these as learning opportunities and not mistakes.
January 19th, 2021 5:55pm
We always think about the "what if" possibilities, it's human nature. But you have to trust your path and take notice of where it takes you and accomplish your goals regardless of anything. As long as you end up where you need to be, those "what if" s don't matter. If you are constantly tied to what could have been, you'll be less focused on what's going to be. You can't go back and change anything, but you can change your future and rebuild and grow. Don't lose hope, we all make mistakes and do things we wish we could change, but its part of learning and growing.
March 18th, 2015 7:37am
Wondering about future hypotheticals is fun sometimes, but it shouldn't be a habit. Are you dissatisfied with your current situation? That may be why you're thinking about those what-if's. Consider keeping a gratitude journal. 7cups offers one on their dashboard bar (I don't know the right term for it), where it says notes on the far right side. Just keep track of the little things you're grateful for each day and you'll find more contentment in your life.
May 26th, 2015 10:06pm
Natural human instinct sadly :) Just try to focus on something else :)Everything will be ok regardless. Good luck!
July 10th, 2015 8:43am
I wonder because the break up is still fresh and hurting and I have nothing better to do. Time is a good healer, time will come when this would just seem hazy
July 13th, 2015 12:51pm
It's natural to wonder that. It is maybe because all the choices you made, you always wonder what if you made the other choice? How would life be different? But to get past it, just move forward and think about the choices you make.
July 21st, 2015 1:27am
human nature is like that, almost everyone suffers from this. we allays want better and we don't realise how good we are doing or we think we can always to better then we do and we keep think about the mistakes or could have been and done, I think it helps us top push our self to do even better if something goes wrong, we sit their analysing the things so it is good in a way but we shouldn't be too harsh on ourself all the times.
August 11th, 2015 5:27am
Many people do this! It's very normal. I think often this is something that people undergoing pivotal moments in their life wonder about. It's natural to wonder what would happen had you chosen a different path. Sometimes it helps to remember that people make different decisions at different points in their lives. It doesn't mean anyone is better or lesser, it just means that they're different. When you encounter a crossroads, you have to choose. When times are hard, or you're feeling low, it's easy to imagine that another decision might have made a difference. It's normal, and it's all part of being human. The important thing is that you accept the decisions you have made, and make changes as you need to in your current situation. If the wondering turns into worry, and is consuming, it might be time to talk about it, either on 7Cups, or with a health professional.
January 5th, 2016 4:53pm
Because deep down I feel as if I somehow failed and that I could have done better if I tried. And that maybe my life would be so much more better if I made better choices.
February 22nd, 2016 3:17am
The hardest thing to do is to let go of the past and move to the future. But always remember that while you are busy holding on to the past you might miss out a lot in the future.
June 14th, 2016 12:29am
Your mind is focused on the past. In the present, you focus on what you have and what you can do for the future and less of what 'could have been'.
November 11th, 2019 10:01pm
I think that it is normal and perfectly reasonable to wonder, worry, and reminisce about your future. Especially at a crossroads in life like with a former partner, old job, University choice, or another town. There is nothing wrong with a reasonable amount of wondering and it is perfectly healthy. If your wondering is affecting your daily life then its probably not healthy anymore, because it sounds like you could be really hung up on a possible future. It might be helpful to connect with a listener and talk about mindfulness and accepting your emotions to feel more comfortable with the here and now.
August 10th, 2020 4:28pm
I think about this very often myself! I find that I live with a feeling that's not strong enough to be labeled "regret," but there is always a bit of wonder about how life would have gone if I had done certain things differently. At the end of the day I think what makes it easier to focus on the "now" instead of the "what if" is acknowledging what we are currently grateful for -- yes, there are things that could have been, but what is it about the right now that makes it special and important for us to be here? And that's not always easy! A few months ago I started a gratitude journal, where I write down five things I am grateful for each night before bed. It's been really helpful!