Home article When You Make a Really Bad Decision

When You Make a Really Bad Decision

When You Make a Really Bad Decision

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your parents or others are asking you what the heck you were thinking or why on earth you did something and the only answer you can come up with is, “I don’t know?” I mean, the reality is that you actually know you made a really bad decision. You might have even realized it at the time, but you did it anyway.

Well, congratulations; you’re a teenager. Teenagers are known for making poor decisions. It is assumed and expected of you. The secret truth is that even adults make bad decisions on a regular basis.

Now, you might be wondering why teenagers like yourself make so many bad decisions. As it turns out, you’re probably not really as stupid as your actions may have others believe. So why on earth does this keep happening? Here are a few reasons why teens make bad decisions:

  • Brain development. Your brain is not fully developed. Because your brain is still changing, the part of it that controls impulses and decision-making just doesn’t work very well. The part that does work really well is the part that seeks pleasure. Most of what you do is derived out of a desire to get what you want and to get it now. Forget reason and rationale. While you can usually see all of that in hindsight, it rarely plays into your decisions in real time.
  • Curiosity. As a teen, you are naturally curious about the world and looking to have new experiences. Often, you are simply testing what you consider to be adult-like actions, such as having sex or drinking alcohol. You’re not trying to do bad things or get yourself or anyone else into trouble. You just want to know what it is like to do different things. But adult actions can have adult consequences.
  • Testing limits. As a normal teenager, your job is to separate from your parents and become an independent adult. You are just trying to exert your budding independence, trying to make decisions on your own, and sometimes failing at making good ones.

Hopefully, having an understanding of why you do some of the things you do will help you make sense out of all this madness. If you can at least realize afterwards when you’ve made a bad decision, you should be able to grow and learn from it. Here are the things you should do when you’ve made a really bad decision:

  • Admit your mistake. Acknowledge what you’ve done. Do not deny, minimize or blame others for your actions. This just makes you look stupid. And for God’s sake, don’t lie or create a web of lies. This rarely ends well, and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding. You made the decision, a bad one, and therefore you are responsible and you must own it.
  • Accept the consequences. You made a bad decision, and now you will have to deal with the consequences. Some consequences are natural, such as failing a class you didn’t do the work in, throwing up when you drink too much or getting a speeding ticket. Others are imposed, such as your parents grounding you or getting kicked out of school. This is how the real adult world works as well, so get used to it.
  • Make amends. Apologize to any and all individuals that your actions might have hurt or wronged. Whether it is your little brother, your parent, a teacher or a friend, you have an obligation to fix things when your behavior has cause a problem.
  • Don’t repeat the mistake. While everyone does make bad decisions sometimes, it is imperative to learn from them and not make the same mistake over and over again. If you want to have trust from your parents now or healthy relationships in the future, you will need to be able to demonstrate and display an understanding of why your actions were not okay and not do it again.

As time goes on, your brain will finish developing and you will have gained a lot of important experiences. Maturity and progress don’t happen overnight. But, you will come out on the other end of this, and you will be wiser for this mistakes you have already made.


Lori Freson Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.
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