Life is full of choices, some big (relationships, career, children) some small (what to order for lunch!) but ever present. Considering we make so many choices in a given day, you would think we would be experts by adulthood. Why is it then that when faced with a big decision, or even not a so big one, we can find ourselves paralysed, confused and in deep despair?
Being a perfectionistic type of person, this is something I can identify with all too well. The obligation to choose wisely has resulted in much agonising over the years and I’ve always struggled with the fear of making the ‘wrong’ choice. The fear of loosing a potential opportunity can be very uncomfortable and regret is something we all want to avoid, hence why it is considered the most unpleasant emotion of all.
The anxiety I experienced around making choices meant that I had to adjust my approach and reframe how I think about choice in general. From what I have read, and learned from life experience, I have come to a conclusion – that getting comfortable with choice depends on two key areas:
1)Trust in yourself to make the right choice
Trusting yourself to make the right choice means getting in tune with your gut and giving it the attention it deserves. Intuition is a powerful thing – we usually know what is the right choice for us. However we can ignore this and overcomplicate the situation with too much analysing and thinking around it. Deep down we do know what we want – but we try to outsmart our heart with our head. The truth is when you make your gut feeling your barometre for choice, life generally gets a bit easier. You commit to doing what feels right for you, at a given time and then whatever the outcome, you can be confident that you made the best choice. I love this quote which I think pretty much sums it up – I try to remember it whenever I have a difficult decision to make:
I can definitely say that this strategy has brought me much greater peace of mind and eased my anxiety around choice. I will probably always struggle a bit but I aim to live by it as much as possible.
2) Trust that whatever the outcome you will find a way to succeed and be happy
The way we THINK about choice has a lot to do with how we deal with it. Our beliefs and attitudes will most certainly have a big impact on how we approach to process. If you are generally a positive person, you will see choice as less intimidating and scary, simply because you believe that things will work out regardless. Adopting a positive attitude takes the pressure off a decision because you refuse to believe in the ”wrong’ choice but rather just see it as a different outcome. Positive people have faith that whatever choice they make, it will ultimately be the right one for them, regardless. They know they will make it work.
So next time you find yourself at a crossroads do yourself a favour…and just go with your gut.