Decisions. Why are they sometimes difficult to make?

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.  The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

This thought about decision making came up for me after my sister and I started making decisions for our aging father.  Although we are making serious decisions, they seem easy from my perspective.  We both have his highest good and best interest in mind.   We are on the same page.  Using Roosevelt’s quote as a tool of measure-we think we are doing the right things. Intuitively, we know this much is true.

Why are some decisions so difficult?  Sometimes having to make decisions sends us into moral, ethical and spiritual chaos.  There is not always a best decision. We go back and forth in our minds driving ourselves crazy. 

We make hundreds of decisions a day. When we eat, sleep, drive, email, read, walk, work, feed the dog- it’s just one automatic, somewhat inconsequential decision after the next.  The challenge is when the decision is outside of the automatic, the ordinary. 

These are the complex decisions. Many times, other people are involved.   The choices can be confusing. They can make us anxious, cost us peace of mind, even once we have decided.  Family, healthcare, child rearing, business, death, moving, friendships, religion, love, sex and money are all examples of what complex issues could include where we must make decisions.

We might ask ourselves:

·        Is this right, moral or ethical?

·        Is it my business, do I have right to weigh in?

·        Is it healthy for me and others around me?

·        Is it for the highest good?

·        Is it truthful?

·        Do I want to be right or in relationship?

·        Is it necessary?

Why are decisions sometimes complex?   Because the outcomes can impact our life and change the status quo.  We ask ourselves how did I get here? We see alternatives as risky. We think, If I do this it could be better-or maybe worse.     We want to see the future before we decide.  Often, we become paralyzed.

We don’t know the outcome until we are in hindsight territory.    Hindsight can be used as a means of analyzing good results and feeling proud of making a good decision. In the reverse, our regrets can be overwhelming.  Lost opportunity can really affect us.  For example: if I had only taken that other job, things would be different.   If I had made better choices, I would be happier.  Now I feel stuck.  Feeling stuck can be overwhelming.

Below is taken from by Linda Sapadin, PhD on strategies that might help with decision making.

1)     Accept that you can’t have it all. Decisions force us to close the door on other possibilities, small ones and big ones.  Paths not taken, careers not chosen, experiences not encountered.  Visit the “what if” scenario if you like but don’t live there. Live in the now where what you do today will make a difference.

2)     More thinking is not always better thinking.   Don’t overthink.  Research and overthinking can reach a point of diminishing returns.

3)     Don’t defer decisions endlessly.    There is a time to put off decisions, maybe you need more information, like consulting your accountant. Just don’t wait so long that the decision is made for you by another party, family member or even the IRS.

4)     Trust your intuition.  Intuition is an impression, a perception, an insight the origins you may not fully understand.  Do not ignore it. Don’t confuse intuition with impulsiveness.  Impulsiveness is an urge to do something to meet an emotional need of the moment that often leads you down a path you’ll regret.

5)     Some decisions don’t work out as expected, this doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong.  Sometimes the unexpected happens.

I believe our lives are molded through the multitude of decisions we have made over time. It is important to own the decisions we make and to take responsibility for them.   Hindsight is a gift.  Good or bad, it is an opportunity to evaluate our past decisions.  Hopefully we make our future decisions from a quiet grounded place, not based on fear and for the highest good of those involved.   

“Decisions.  We can think about things, turn them over in our minds a million times, play out possible scenarios, but really when it comes down to it, you have to go with your heart and move forward.  Maybe things will go well. Maybe they’ll turn out poorly.  Every decision brings with it some good, some bad, some lessons, and some luck.  The only thing that’s for sure is that indecision steals many years from many people who wind up wishing they’d just had the courage to Leap.”

-Doe Zantamata

Until next time,

Sat nam.