The ability to make decisions seems to elude some people. They can’t just make a decision. This post is inspired by a conversation I had with a young man about his intense worry before, during and after making decisions. More specifically, he is worried about making the wrong decision.
We looked closer at the decisions that he was making. At first, he thought all decisions gave him trouble, but this was not the case. We have very easy decisions most of the day. Should we brush our teeth? Do we go to work/class?
In fact, we have to make a decision about so many little things! Should we wear clothes or go naked? Should I take a really great opportunity? We barely acknowledge these as decisions, but they ARE decisions none-the-less. It is just that we are so clear about the choice. In other words, the option we are not choosing is undesirable enough that it does not feel like an option. But it actually might be an option someone else would take. Some kids have no trouble missing school for the day.
Just make a decision
The decisions that are hard to make are ones where both or multiples options are feasible. There are benefits and risks to each choice. Should I work out or watch TV? Which concurrent meeting should I attend? This is where it got harder. There wasn’t clarity. Most of these kinds of decisions have very little risk. It is not as if we are dismantling a bomb and have to pick the right color wire or we’ll be blown to smithereens. Worry has us seeing the risk as higher than it is. Sometimes our decision is arbitrary, because the next day we will be have opportunity to make the same decision and we can change our mind.
The word decision means “to kill” as we are killing the choice not taken. Sometimes we feel grief for what we pass up even though the decision is clear. It is a loss. But it also frees us. Once we make the choice we can now commit to the option we pick. There is no RIGHT choice, we pick something and then MAKE it the “right” one. You have the control.
There is a freedom when you make a decision
The problem comes in when one ruminates over decisions from the past that are arbitrary or that did not seem to pan out. This regret only serves us to the point that brings awareness into our next decision. After that it no longer serves us. Instead it causes anxiety and unnecessary but all too common torment.
Even allowing regret and worry to torment you is a choice. You can make a decision to look forward from all decisions always knowing there is another chance to chose something else next time. Deciding not to let worry and regret get under your skin can be the most freeing decision yet!