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The Unseen Grief: Mourning The Consequences Of Good Decisions

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

Decision-making is an intrinsic part of the human experience, and its impact on our lives cannot be overstated. Every day, we are confronted with choices, ranging from the mundane to the life-altering. These decisions shape our futures, determine our paths, and influence the course of our existence. Within this intricate web of choices, a fundamental dichotomy exists, profoundly affecting our ability to make good decisions.

Life is an intricate tapestry of choices and consequences. We often find ourselves in the throes of decision-making, contemplating the potential outcomes of each choice. As we navigate this complex web of choices, it becomes apparent that not all consequences are negative. In fact, some are born from the seeds of good decisions. Yet, even in the wake of what should be celebrated success, there lies a peculiar and seldom discussed aspect of the human experience: mourning the consequences of a good decision. 

The Dichotomy of Decision Making 

In the realm of decision-making, we often equate good decisions with favorable outcomes. When we make a choice that aligns with our values, long-term goals, or ethical principles, we anticipate positive consequences. Such decisions can include pursuing higher education, making responsible financial choices, or nurturing meaningful relationships. However, what we often overlook is that even the most virtuous choices can yield consequences that necessitate a mourning process.

On one side of the decision-making spectrum lies rationality, characterized by logical reasoning, objective analysis, and data-driven thinking. This approach is marked by a dispassionate assessment of facts, pros and cons, and an emphasis on long-term consequences. Decisions rooted in rationality often prioritize practicality, efficiency, and achieving desired outcomes. For example, when choosing a career path, a rational approach might involve evaluating salary potential, job market demand, and the alignment of the career with personal goals and skills. In such cases, making a good decision is associated with choosing the option that offers the most favorable outcome based on these rational considerations.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we find the emotional aspect of decision-making. Emotions encompass a wide range of feelings, including joy, fear, desire, and anxiety, and they play a significant role in shaping our choices. Emotional decisions are often driven by personal values, desires, intuition, and immediate gratification. They prioritize feelings and personal connection over objective data. To illustrate, consider a person deciding whether to marry their long-time partner. While rational factors like financial stability and compatibility matter, emotions such as love, passion, and a sense of connection often weigh heavily in the final decision. In this case, making a good decision involves honoring one’s emotional compass and following the heart.

Rationality over emotion 

Choosing rationality over emotion in decision-making can indeed elicit complex emotions. While rational decisions often align with what appears to be objectively better for us, they don’t always resonate with our deepest desires or emotional inclinations. This can lead to a sense of conflict within ourselves, as we grapple with the dissonance between what we believe is logically right and what our hearts yearn for. In such situations, it’s not uncommon to experience a lingering sense of unease or regret, even when the rational choice is objectively sound. This emotional discord underscores the intricate nature of human decision-making, highlighting that the path to what’s “better” is not always straightforward. It reminds us that our choices are not just about optimizing outcomes but also about honoring our inner selves and seeking a sense of personal fulfillment, even if it means occasionally deviating from the pure rotational path.

The Complexity of Human Emotions

Human emotions are complex and multifaceted, transcending the boundaries of black and white. While we typically associate mourning with loss, sadness, and regret, it can also manifest in the wake of positive life changes. When we make decisions that lead to favorable outcomes, we might initially experience jubilation and a sense of accomplishment. However, as time unfolds, a more nuanced set of emotions can emerge.

Anticipating the consequences of our good decisions can be a double-edged sword. We might find ourselves mourning the life we once knew, even if it was less desirable. A classic example of this is leaving a stable but unfulfilling job to pursue a dream career. While the decision might ultimately lead to happiness and success, it can also trigger mourning for the familiarity and routine of the old job.

The “What If” Syndrome

One of the most potent triggers for mourning the consequences of good decisions is the “What If” Syndrome. This phenomenon occurs when we reflect on the alternate paths we could have taken and the life we could have led if we had made different choices. It is a manifestation of human curiosity and the eternal quest for self-discovery. For instance, consider someone who decided to marry their high school sweetheart, leading to a loving and stable marriage. While this decision may bring immense joy, the person may still wonder, “What if I had chosen to explore other relationships or opportunities?” These uncharted paths can become sources of sorrow, even in the midst of contentment.

In the context of good decisions, the “What If” Syndrome can be both a blessing and a burden. It’s a blessing because it signifies our capacity for introspection and our ability to imagine a different reality, even when content with our choices. It’s a burden because it can trigger a subtle sense of restlessness and a nagging question: “What if I had chosen differently?” It reflects our innate desire for exploration, growth, and the perpetual quest for self-discovery. It’s a reminder that life is not a linear journey but a mosaic of choices, each with its own set of consequences, and that even the most satisfying decision carries with it the echoes of untraveled paths.

Embracing the “What If” Syndrome entails acknowledging its presence without allowing it to overshadow the value of our chosen path. It’s about recognizing that life is a collection of experiences, both realized and potential, and that the roads not taken are as much a part of our story as the ones we tread upon. This syndrome teaches us to appreciate the richness of our choices, the depth of our curiosity, and the profound capacity of our minds to wonder about the myriad possibilities that exist beyond the horizon of our good decisions.

The Burden of Expectations

Another factor that contributes to mourning the consequences of good decisions is the weight of expectations. Society often places heavy expectations on individuals to make certain choices that are deemed virtuous or responsible. When individuals conform to these expectations and make these “good” decisions, they may find themselves mourning the loss of autonomy or the ability to explore alternative paths.

Society’s expectations can create a sense of conformity, where individuals may feel pressured to make choices that align with established norms. For example, pursuing a high-paying corporate job is often seen as virtuous due to financial stability and social prestige. While such a decision may lead to material success, it might also mean abandoning personal passions or creative pursuits, leaving individuals with a sense of loss for the unfulfilled potential of alternative paths. 

The consequences of good decisions, when made under societal pressure, can also include a sense of entrapment. People might feel locked into a particular life trajectory, unable to explore different paths due to the fear of disappointing others or deviating from the expected route. This can lead to a profound mourning of missed opportunities and unfulfilled potentials. 

The Necessity of Mourning

Mourning the consequences of good decisions is a natural and often overlooked aspect of personal growth and self-awareness. It is a testament to the depth of human experience and the complex interplay of emotions. Instead of viewing it as a negative phenomenon, we should recognize its significance in our lives. Mourning serves several purposes in the context of good decisions. Firstly, it allows us to acknowledge and process the emotions associated with change, even when it is positive. Secondly, it encourages self-reflection, prompting us to explore our desires, values, and aspirations. Lastly, it can serve as a catalyst for personal growth and adaptation, helping us embrace the evolving narrative of our lives.

In the pursuit of happiness and personal growth, it is essential to recognize that life is not a linear progression of choices and outcomes. Instead, it is a tapestry woven from the threads of both positive and negative consequences. Mourning the consequences of good decisions reminds us that the human experience is rich in its complexity.

As we navigate the labyrinth of decision-making, let us not shy away from the multifaceted emotions that accompany even the most virtuous choices. By acknowledging and embracing this complexity, we can navigate the ever-changing landscape of our lives with grace, understanding, and an appreciation for the intricate beauty of the human experience.

Adriana Quiles is junior at the University of Puerto Rico Recinto de Río Piedras. She's very passionate about female empowerment and feels that Her Campus is her ideal outlet to talk about topics that matter to her and to all women.