Sometimes, when we have to make a hard decision, we truly don’t know where we stand.
When the decision only affects us, we may remain undecided for weeks, even months. However, when the decision also affects other people, we may feel pressure to force ourselves to decide before we are ready.
The truth is that decisions have consequences, whether they are minor or long-term. For this reason, we need to give ourselves time to fully process how we feel about our options. Allowing ourselves this time can feel intimidating, because there are often outside factors pressuring us to make our choices, and make them quickly.
If you have the tendency to try to please others, as I do, it can be extremely hard to recognize that maintaining your agency is more important than maintaining other people’s happiness. It’s helpful to remember that if you do not consider your needs, you can end up hurting the other people involved!
Here’s how that can happen:
- Hard choice in front of you
- Consider your needs, and the needs of others involved
- Make decision based solely on the needs of others involved
- Become sad or uncomfortable with result
- Resent others involved or feel hurt that they did not intervene
- Others involved become sad upon receiving these feelings
So, if you really care about pleasing other people, remember that they will be happier if you advocate for yourself and consider your needs in addition to theirs. Nobody wants to feel like they have inadvertently deprived you of free will, and your needs are valid!
The hardest part about letting yourself decide is that it puts you at risk of making a mistake – A mistake that is truly yours, based on your wants and needs. This is scary, especially for perfectionists like me, and I’m not trying to diminish this. However, I’m beginning to understand that it is okay, and perhaps even necessary to make mistakes.
When we make a decision that leads us to an uncomfortable or painful experience, it teaches us about ourselves. We begin to learn what makes us unhappy, and in turn we will be able to fine-tune our future decisions towards what really works for us. Without such experiences, how would we know what we do or do not like?