We are all indecisive sometimes.
It happens whenever there are two things we want almost equally
but we can only have one of them.
This topic will help you decide with confidence when you think you can’t decide.
We’ll look at seven ways we get confused.
Then we’ll find out when a decision is critical and when it is not.
KNOWN AND UNKNOWN
Dilemma: You are in college but you can’t decide on a major.
Solution: Talk to other students and professors and do a lot of research. Don’t decide until you feel strong about your choice.
Principle: Always get enough information.
SAFE OR UNSAFE
Dilemma: You are 95, and you know you can’t drive safely, but you love to drive.
Solution: Don’t drive.
Principle: Safety wins.
WHAT YOU KNOW OR WHAT YOU WANT
Dilemma: You want to have an affair but you know it will ruin your good marriage.
Solution: Don’t have the affair. Work to improve things at home, maybe through therapy.
Principle: Reason wins, and desire matters.
WHAT YOU KNOW OR WHAT YOU VALUE
Dilemma: You can only afford a gas-guzzler but you care a lot about the environment.
Solution: Buy only what you can afford. Get the least-polluting vehicle you can afford.
Principle: Reason wins, and values matter.
WHAT YOU WANT OR WHAT YOU VALUE
Dilemma: You want to watch football but you think you should help your partner cook instead.
Solution: Watch football now, and help your partner, probably in some other way, later.
Principle: Desire is stronger than values. Both matter, but neither dominates. You will feel more resentment if desire is frustrated than if a value is put on hold. [Don’t you have a VCR?]
PLEASE YOURSELF OR PLEASE OTHERS
Dilemma: Your parents don’t value your lifestyle.
Solution: Enjoy your lifestyle and avoid talking with them about it if they mistreat you.
Principle: It’s your life so it should be based on your desires, values, and reason, not someone else’s.
KNOWN OR HIDDEN
Dilemma: You don’t know why but you keep doing life-threatening things.
Solution: Find out why, in therapy. And don’t wait.
Principle: Use all possible resources when your life is at stake.
You know you are really stuck
when you hear yourself saying, “Yes, but…”:
“Yes, but I don’t want to do the research.”
“Yes, but I really want to keep on driving.”
“Yes, but I really do want to help with the cooking.”
Saying “yes, but” indicates you want to remain undecided.
It shows you believe that
if you hassle yourself long enough
you will magically find a way
to avoid giving up some of what you want.
That would be nice,
but it’s not reality.
Difficult decisions are about choosing
between things you want almost equally.
The only resolution is to
decide what you are going to give up.
At times like these, children cry out:
“Yes, but I don’t want to give it up!”
They don’t have to want to,
they just have to do it.
(Kids hate when you say that.)
IF IT’S REALLY SERIOUS
If your indecision is about safety or serious health matters,
see a therapist immediately.
Also, get therapy if your indecision keeps you awake nights,
or if you have been painfully indecisive for months.
IF IT’S LESS SERIOUS
Seeing a therapist might still be a good idea
even if it’s not so serious.
But remember the option of
simply giving up some of what you want.
The pain from what you give up
may be far less severe
than the pain of remaining undecided.