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  • Cecily Sakai, PsyD

Hindsight Bias

Hindsight bias or the phrase “hindsight is 20/20” occurs as we reflect on how something could have or should have been done differently. We are taken back to a state of rumination. This mindset works well when we want to cognitively beat ourselves up and confirm that we made a poor decision about something that had already occurred. Often, this mindset can emerge in cases of depression, complex bereavement, and PTSD, to name a few.

Tips for how to remedy this mindset when it occurs:

1). Reflect on the information you had at the time of the event. Often times you may include new information that was learned after the event as part of how you evaluate the event after it occurred. This isn’t fair as you are judging your actions at the time of the event based on new information obtained after the event.

2). Remind yourself of what helpful things you did do during the event. Soothe and work to reassure yourself that you did the best you could given the circumstances.

3). Remain in the present. Engage in mindfulness practice to cultivate being aware of the present moment. Daily mindfulness practice can assist in noticing when our mind goes to past rumination and help guide us back to the present.

4). Notice intention. Was it your intention for the situation to occur the way it did? Did you intentionally act in a way to create the outcome that resulted?

5). As difficult as it may be, remind yourself that you’re unable to change the past. Turn towards the direction of acceptance again and again and again.

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