You are an imperfect person and the decisions you make are the best you can make with the information available at the time.

You can’t go back and replay something and do things differently. Life isn’t a set of events that occur in a defined order that need to be optimised and refined to make them perfect. Life isn’t predictable or planned. It’s not something where you do multiple takes. You can’t look back afterwards, knowing what you know now, and make tweaks and do a second draft.

At each point you make a decision as best you can with all the information available to you at the time. Later you will learn more information, sometimes that validates your decision and sometimes it suggests had you decided differently things would have turned out better.

That doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision.

Of course you are going to learn more information in hindsight, we naturally learn more about what’s going on around us as time goes on. We learn other people’s perspectives on things and consider them in a way that isn’t possible until afterwards. We learn what others would have done, what we could have done that we didn’t consider, couldn’t consider. Most importantly of all, we learn how what we did do played out and if it happened like we thought.

We know the most about a situation afterwards, so it’s not surprising if after we make a decision we find out a different decision would have had a better outcome. It’s normal and doesn’t mean that what we later learn was somehow obvious or we should have known it at the time. It doesn’t mean anything about the past, really. It doesn’t mean what could have happened or what might have been the case. It is what it is. It’s happened. This new learning only has relevance to our understanding of the situation in hindsight.

You don’t know what to say all the time. You don’t know how what you say will change the course of a conversation. You don’t know the questions you’ll be asked, the decisions you’ll face, the truths you’ll come to accept in that moment. In the moment you don’t have that luxury – nobody does – you’re making the best with what you have in that microsecond where you have to make a decision. You can’t reasonably foresee how things will pan out – ultimately you just need to make a decision and be true to that.

Life is something that happens to you, it happens around you. Ultimately all we can do is take what is thrown at us and respond as best we can in the moment.

Stop punishing yourself. Even if something falls on you, punishing yourself isn’t going to change what happened.