On doing the “right” thing…

Decisions, decisions. Before every action, there’s a thought. You might not ever be consciously aware of your thought, but it was there all the same.

In the film “Parallel Doors” we observe the different routes life could go on the basis of one choice and the film shows us the consequence of each choice. Yet that’s always only ever a philosophical debate. The fact is we make choices every minute of every day that impact our future. Right down to what we eat and drink and whether we turn left or right, act or don’t act. Choosing is how we live, it’s just that we often make our choices unconsciously.

When you consciously know there is a decision to be made, do you regularly make it easily? Or do you agonise over decisions for hours or days, seeking second and third opinions from people and suffer from paralysis by analysis? After all, what if you make the “wrong” decision? If making decisions is a major issue for you, then even deciding if you want coffee or tea might cause anxiety. (It also means you’ve lost touch with who you are and what you think and want from life. Could be time to get your journal out……)

When it comes to major decisions though, I know that in the past, I found myself stuck – and not just paralysed by indecision and fear of making a “wrong” choice – but unable to see any options at all.

This was particularly the case when my thinking meant that I evaluated right/wrong choices on the basis of other people. I could only see how what was right for ME could mean hard times, tears and pain for others. This concern for others in doing “the right thing” paralysed me just as much as fear of the unknown. And sadly, this has also led to me getting to the point where the dam inside just burst, and I ended up wading through the wreckage the flood left behind.

But wading through that wreckage and rebuilding a life again helped me to understand (in hindsight) that no choice I make is ever strictly a “wrong” choice, EVEN when MY decision could be the “right” decision for me – but the “wrong” one for someone else, or for the collective group. It’s simply the right choice for me if I’m to live authentically.

Yesterday, I read this quote from Gary Smit who wrote, “Choosing to do the right thing means you are going to have to withdraw from the wrong choices you made. Be easy about it and flow towards your desires, making better choices every day, and then the withdrawal from old choices will be less, than if you were to make new choices while beating yourself up over old choices.”

In this context, as Natalie (who had posted it on Facebook) pointed out, this was about people who make wrong choices – and then continue to make them. That’s a different issue, though still about choice and it means there then comes a point when someone is running a wrong-choice pattern, they need to withdraw from those and start to make better choices. Now that’s wise. Sometimes we learn easily and are “once bitten, twice shy.” And sometimes we need to see the patterns we run because only then can we change.

Certainly, there is little value in beating yourself up about past choices. You did what you did at the time on the basis of who you were then with the values, beliefs and experiences you had to that point. It’s that hindsight thing again!

For that reason, if you spend time weighing up the options, there comes a point where a decision needs made. Agonising and dithering means a lot of anxiety or the pressure of being stuck; and a lot can still happen even while that’s how you feel.

Even when you are between a “rock and a hard place” you must at last make a choice to live and at the very least, you try one option. Otherwise you end up like the donkey who couldn’t choose between two bales of hay and starves to death – a rather drastic consequence of his indecision – but you get the idea.

Make a decision and know that you made the best choice at the time. There IS no failure, only feedback. It you make a decision that doesn’t “work out,” you learn from it and move on, living with the consequences and still learn from that. It’s all good.

Sometimes, of course, you make the “right” choice. You weigh up your actions and possibilities and you are more than happy with your choice. And then something happens to make you re-evaluate things completely, and you change direction. Does that mean your first choice was wrong and you should beat yourself up about it? Of course not! We are human beings living in an uncertain world, and life happens in the middle of our plans. You made that decision on the basis of who you were then; it’s quite possible that the experience you gained through that is exactly why you realise you need to make a different choice.

If you are to live authentically, you must be able to listen to your heart and be flexible enough to change so that how you LIVE now fits with who you ARE. now. The course of your life could pivot on that choice; only hindsight will tell that. For now, it’s YOUR choice to take a different road and even if it’s less travelled, all you need to know is that it’s the right road for you to take.