Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Life's Difficult Decisions

Many of us have a hard time making decisions.

We fear that if we choose the wrong partner, we'll be stuck in an unhappy relationship. Or, if we make the wrong financial decision, we'll be stuck in a bad investment. However, there are no wrong decisions.

Perhaps we could, at times, make different choices regarding our relationships, personal pursuits, careers, or the right color of paint for our walls. Yet, regardless of the outcome, we always gain valuable experience and insights from any choice we make.

Making a decision is always better than making no decision at all. Once done, we know that we had the courage to decide, take a chance, and make a move in a particular direction. We can't take action unless we make a decision first; and a decision is never wrong because we always gain something from it - whether we get what we thought we intended or learn a valuable lesson. Sometimes, we need to follow through on a decision to realize that we don't really want what we thought we did.

Each of the many decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation. When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilize both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion.

Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When we are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, we need to understand all we can about the choice ahead of us before moving forward. If we do not come to the decision from a place of balance, we risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don't take our feelings into account.

In bringing our thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, we ensure that we are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and we have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with our values and our needs.

Our perception of the traits and characteristics that make us who we are is often tightly intertwined with how we live our life and the way we make our decisions. We define ourselves in terms of the roles we adopt, our actions and inactions, our triumphs, and what we think are failures. As a result it is easy to identify so strongly with a decision that has resulted in unexpected negative consequences that we actually become that "wrong" decision. The disappointment and shame we feel when we make what we perceive as a mistake grows until it becomes a dominant part of our identities. We rationalize our "poor" decisions by labeling ourselves incompetent decision-makers. However, our true identity cannot be defined by our choices. Our essence - what makes us a unique entity - exists independently of our decision-making process.

All decisions contribute to our development and are an integral part of our evolving existence yet they are still separate from our self. A decision that does not result in its intended outcome is in no way an illustration of our character. Still, it can have dire effects on our ability to trust ourselves and our self-esteem.

We can avoid becoming our decisions by affirming that a "bad decision" was just an experience, and next time we can choose differently. We then need to avoid lingering in the past and mulling over the circumstances that led to our perceived error in judgment. Instead, adapting to the new circumstances we must face by considering how we can use our intelligence, inner strength, and intuition to aid us in moving forward more mindfully. We must not entirely avoid thinking about the choices we have made, but reflect on the consequences of our decisions from a rational, rather than an emotional, standpoint.

So, we strive to understand why we made the choices we did, forgive ourselves, and then move forward.

Life's decisions provide a valuable learning experience and is, in essence, a gift to learn and grow from. We are not bad people and we are not our decisions.

We are simply human.

With love & light,


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