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What are Second Thoughts?

Jessica Ellis
By
Updated: May 23, 2024

Having second thoughts means reconsidering an issue previously decided. It is a natural reaction to making a decision, especially if the choice was made quickly or without having all the information. Second thoughts can be either a good or bad thing depending on the situation; while sometimes rethinking an issue can give you a more clear idea of your true feelings, it can also distract from your natural impulses and desires out of fear or anxiety.

It is very common to have second thoughts when making a big or important decision. Because humans naturally question their own powers of reasoning, it is not unusual to make a decision and then wonder if it was correct. Truthfully, since you have no way of knowing the future outcome of your decisions, judging whether the decision is correct is not cannot come until the situation has completely resolved itself.

Knowing when to pay attention to second thoughts is an important lesson to learn in life, one that may never be mastered. If you begin to reconsider your position on a decision or plan, ask yourself careful questions about what is motivating these thoughts: Have you gained new information that makes you feel anxious or afraid? Will changing your decision negatively affect people around you? How likely is it that the things you fear will come to pass?

Being careful when you initially make decisions can help ward off agonizing second thoughts. Try not to make serious decisions when you are sick, intoxicated or otherwise impaired. Also avoid major decisions when you are being pressured to make them; outside pressure can cause you to ignore your own feelings in order to get the pressure to stop. Plans or choices made under any of these conditions are probably not made with your best thinking ability in tact. Take the time you need to make decisions and you are more likely to make your choices in tune with your wants and needs.

If you are having second thoughts, it is likely because you are afraid of a negative outcome. This can be a genuine concern, but it can also be simply panic and insecurity. Take a deep breath or do something that relaxes you, and then ask yourself realistically how likely it is that disaster will strike. If it seems very likely, this may definitely be a time to listen to your instinct to change your mind.

Talking with a trusted friend or mentor about your mental conflict may help you work out the best answer for you. A second or third opinion may give you new insight into the situation and help you focus in on your true feelings. You may also want to check out online support groups or webpages to see the responses of people going through the same situation. Although ultimately, decisions about your life rest with you, knowing you are not alone can help calm you and get you to think more clearly.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for Language & Humanities. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By AnswerMan — On Mar 26, 2014

I think second thoughts happen a lot with important decisions, but thoughts aren't always regrets. I've had second thoughts about taking a job, but it was a temporary feeling. Working conditions did improve.

By Buster29 — On Mar 25, 2014

I was in a position one time to hire my own replacement at a deli restaurant. I interviewed about ten people, but none of them had any experience in a deli and they didn't seem to have the right personality for a very public position. Finally, a young woman walked in and told me she worked in a fast paced deli in New York City before moving to my state. She also had an outgoing personality, which was important because the sandwich makers dealt directly with the public. I hired her that day.

A few months later, however, she started calling in sick on our busiest days. Customers were coming to me with complaints about her sandwich making skills and her abrasive personality. I really began to have second thoughts about hiring her. It didn't happen right away, however. At the time I was interviewing new sandwich makers, she seemed to have all the right qualities. I think that's the important thing about having second thought. Your first instincts may have been right at the time, but the situation can change later.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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