Recently, I have been contemplating the power of making choices. A lifelong perfectionist, I have often viewed decision-making with dread; a difficult, even scary, process involving much option-weighing, hem-hawing and second-guessing. Even small decisions about what to wear for the day, whether or not to eat that piece of cake, what chores/activities to accomplish, could send me in tailspin. I would decide one way, then change my mind 10 seconds later, and so on, until finally I was either forced to make a choice, or the opportunity had passed. Half of the time I would regret whatever course of action I chose, wondering if I should’ve chosen differently.
Over time, I have slowly come to the realization that, not only have I wasted a vast amount of time and energy worrying about making just the right decision, but in doing so, I have missed out on enjoying the outcome of that decision. Let’s go back to the cake example. I think most of us can relate to this; you’re at a party, and you want to eat a piece of cake. In the past, my thought process would’ve gone something like this: “I really want to eat cake. But I probably shouldn’t, because I’m trying to watch what I eat. But if I don’t eat cake, I’m going to spend the rest of the day wishing I had! But if I do eat it, I’m going to wish I hadn’t!” This mental monologue would continue for some amount of time until I made a decision. But I wouldn’t be happy with my decision, whatever it was, because, and here’s the real kicker--I never truly took ownership of my choice!
I am not a practicing Christian, but I have always liked this Bible passage: In Matthew 5:37, Jesus says, ‘let your yes be yes, and your no be no…’ This means when we make a choice, we need to go ‘all the way’, we need to fully possess our choice: either we eat the cake, or we don’t. If we eat the cake, we don’t berate ourselves for eating the cake, and if we don’t eat the cake, we don’t regret it.
It really is as simple as that. And the best part of learning to stand firm in our choices is that we can stop finding decision-making scary, and start finding it empowering!
Learning to take ownership of my decisions has truly brought me a great deal of peace. As with any skill, I don’t always do it perfectly 100% of the time, but I am making an effort to practice at every opportunity. And in practicing making small decisions with confidence, I will gradually be able to make larger and more complex decisions with confidence as well. And hopefully, as I gain experience making choices, whatever they might be, I can start analyzing those choices and find ways to make better, wiser, more informed decisions. More on this next time!