When I was 20, I did not have children, I was single and I was managing a restaurant, which gave me plenty of expendable income and flexibility. I would make decisions in a flash. Decision-making was a skill that I took for granted. I would decide to go travel. I would decide to go out or not go out that night. It just wasn’t something I thought about. As I am peering into 40 however, married with two kids and a mortgage, I find decisions to be much more difficult. They feel more weighted. Possibly because my decisions affect my partner and my children and partly because my own mortality is more palpable and time seems more precious.
The wisdom I keep returning to that helps turn down the anxiety of making decisions is that THERE IS NO PERFECT DECISION. There is a little grief and a little loss in every decision that we make. If you are saying “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. I occasionally dip my toes into the coaching world. There are many people out there that talk about decision making and when to take action. One coach talked about how she never sends an email without first being spiritually aligned. I thought to myself, “Shit- I would never send another email again if I waited for that.” Many other caches talk about how you will know it is your wisdom talking versus your fear. One coach talked about the voice of wisdom coming in at a slow whisper whereas fear is quick and loud. She said, “you will know when it is your wisdom, because you will feel a sense of peace.” Although this definitely has some truth to it, I can’t help but think, especially for those of us with some trauma, that fear and anxiety are often parts that we cannot turn all the way down. So I give myself permission to feel “peaceful enough,” “spiritually aligned enough” (whatever that means to you).
Some other questions that help me make decisions are “Which one makes me want to puke less?” This sounds funny, but it’s actually a pretty good guide. “Which decision feels like it is MORE from my heart than my head?” “Which choice feels like it is being made from a place of (enough) wisdom and bravery and not from a place of fear?” Most of all, don’t overthink it. Take a breath, be brave, and move in the direction that you think is in the direction of a whole-hearted life.