Hindsight is 20/20!...?

The other day, a friend said to me, “yes but, hindsight is 20/20.” I was telling her about a past event, where I knew better, and I felt I could have done better. She was using the term to remind me not to be so hard on myself. In other words, that of course now I can see how I could have done better, but it doesn’t mean I should have at the time, because, well, I couldn’t see it then. 


And while I agree with the concept, and I appreciate the comfort for my overly-critical-OCD personality, it got me thinking. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, which might imply that present sight (the opposite of hindsight), is blurry. So perhaps, at the moment something is happening, my vision is blurry, and therefore the decisions I make are less than precise. And I do think, in many cases, that is how it goes! You never truly know what you are going to get when you make a decision, especially a risky or scary one, so that makes sense. 


But also, you can often feel something deeper than that. For example, let’s look at two scenarios. 1) You make a smart decision based on all the information you currently have, and you believe it could possibly create the outcome you want, and…it doesn’t. 2) You make a smart decision based on all the information you currently have, but you feel this tugging at you. You feel a small voice inside of you saying, nuh uh, that’s not the one. But you go with it anyway because it feels good, or other people are counting on it, or it rationally makes the most sense and can’t rationalize any other choice, etc. And then, it doesn’t go the way you want. In scenario (2), you did actually know. And you chose to go against what you knew, deep down. 




A few weeks ago, my Ayurvedic healer-friend came in to my yoga teacher training program to do a lecture on Ayurveda. In the lecture he shared a quote that said something like, we use our willpower to go against our gut intuition. (You know, that moment when you look at the tub of ice cream, and you decide to finish it at midnight, even though everything inside of you is saying no!) We are different from animals, in that we have willpower - the ability to make decisions based on more than just instinct. And when we use that to go against our truth, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are taking ourselves further away from ourselves. 


When we do that, when we use the power of choice to choose something that goes against what our truth is, we subtly tell ourselves that our truth isn’t worth listening to. And if we made a decision that we knew was bad when we made it, we end up so mad at ourselves for the outcome, instead of simply evaluating the situation and learning and growing. We build up anger, resentment, fear, and distrust for ourselves. 


So we can connect to this internal voice, this “gut intuition”. (By the way, I don’t particularly like that phrase because it tends to be overused and misused to portray things like psychic abilities, or emotional feelings, etc. By intuition here, I mean, the ability to use energy data to make decisions in the immediate moment (definition by Caroline Myss). The ability to trust yourself to do that.) 


There are times where you truly did not know, you made a decision, and it didn’t go well. And in that case, it’s important to use hindsight to look at the facts, evaluate what happened, and proceed with more knowledge and understanding, so that next time it will go smoother. And then there are times where you did know, deep down, and you chose to use your willpower to go against it. And in those moments, hindsight can still be useful, but in a different way. I think it becomes less about the circumstances, or the facts of what did or did not happen. And more about the fact that you knew and you ignored that knowing. Get better and better at catching the moments you know, but hide it within yourself. That way, you can actually choose in line with yourself, and what you know is right. You can actually use your willpower to enhance your power, rather than suffocate it.


Trust yourself. That voice is there to serve you. The tricky part is just to quiet down the noise of fear, other people’s voices, and habits, so that you can actually listen. Xo