MAKING IT BETTER: Should I or Shouldn’t I; Can I or Can’t I?

There are no certainties about the future, but it doesn’t stop us trying to find them. We can end up becoming so worried about what might happen that we miss opportunities for embracing new, richer more rewarding experiences. Sometimes the most important decisions have to be made on the basis of insufficient evidence. Action is the best antidote to anxiety and uncertainty and change offers us the opportunity to think differently and do something new.

These are certainly challenging and worrying times we are living in at the moment. Feeling anxious and worried can leave us feeling less optimistic and confident that the things we do will turn out well. But a time of change and upheaval could be the most opportune time to take a risk.

Most of the choices we make or avoid making are not necessarily to do with major events. Even small decisions can feel daunting. I have had days when I don’t feel I can even make a decision on how many spoons of sugar to put in my tea. I have absolutely driven my kids to distraction on those days because I ask them to decide if I should have a banana or an orange, if I should watch a DVD or cable TV, if I should drink water or a soft drink. On those days, I simply feel incapable of making the simplest decision. I feel so fragile and vulnerable and don’t trust my judgement. I want to be taken care of and do not want to be accountable or responsible for anything, and making the simplest decisions feel threatening. It’s at these times that making any type of decision feels like a major accomplishment. I am also painfully aware that this might not be the best time to make a significant decision in my life.

Over the past several weeks I have been faced with the nerve wracking challenge of making decisions to commit to a variety of things. Sometimes life is very quiet and you wish and want for some figurative noise in your life. Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. So the noise came and it was deafening, and with it came the fear, the uncertainty, the indecision, the doubts, and the inability to think in any reasonable or rational way. I even managed to convince myself I didn’t know what I had been successful at for over 25 years!

The thing about avoiding the possible discomfort of making decisions is that you can miss the joy of a new encounter and a real sense of achievement. Being brave in small ways can pay big dividends.

Fear can make us cautious, rigid and more likely to put up with bad situations;  such as remaining in an abusive relationship out of fear of being on you own or of not having that coveted ‘status’ of marriage. Governments tend to find times of deep uncertainty easier to govern. Case in point is the President Donald Trump who is working overtime to create and cause as much chaos, discord, disruption and divide as he can with all those around him in the hope of the proverbial divide and rule. Unfortunately its working, but only for a while, till some people begin to think clearly and take some risks and extricate themselves from the madness.

George W. Bush cultivated a climate of perpetual fear in America, about terrorists being everywhere and had Americans petrified and expecting to see the bogey man under their pillows, in their closets and under their beds. (It worked!… for a while anyway).

There is a price to pay for excessive caution, and fear only breeds more fear. Often doing nothing has a greater downside than doing something. The danger of inaction can frequently be seen in relationships with friends, family and spouses that may be comfortable but ultimately unfulfilling.

None of us know how our lives will unfold, so it’s important that our caution doesn’t stop us from making choices that might enrich our lives. Sometimes it pays to take a risk, confront fears and seize the day.

Taking on a challenge and doing something new usually brings with it some degree of risk and uncertainty. Many people get so fixated on the potential for failure that they loose sight of the gains. If you feel threatened by what’s ahead, try looking at it as a chance to explore ideas how to overcome your fears. Identify where you are now, where you ultimately want to be, and then challenge yourself to come up with one tiny step that will allow you to start bridging the gap. Before you realise it you would have started to train your mind to look for solutions.

Fear can paralyse us to point where it becomes impossible to make a decision about the next step. Look back at good decisions you’ve made in the past and identify your particular decision – making strategy. And for those of you who claim you’ve never made any good decisions (there’s always someone who will feel that way), I bet you have. Even reading this article is a good decision because it can potentially give you something more than you had yesterday. Remember…glass half full as opposed to half empty!

What’s the worst thing that could happen? Whatever it is, figure out how you would deal with it and put some safeguards in place. Be aware of the risks and consequences so that you can assess whether it’s a risk you are willing to take. Identify the pros and cons of taking the risk. Focus on the magnitude and impact of each decision. Remember, there are also risks attached to doing nothing.

In order to gain something new, sometimes you have to let go of the old. View setbacks as an opportunity to learn and develop different strategies for the future. Use mistakes to help you grow, and focus on those areas where you need to develop your skills further. The best creative opportunities come from being fully present in the now and being open to the unknown (and yes that’s pretty scary but full of promise!).

So now that I’ve said all of that, I’m off to take my own advice. Does any of this resonate with you? Feel free to share your experiences.

 

Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister

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5 Responses to MAKING IT BETTER: Should I or Shouldn’t I; Can I or Can’t I?

  1. Olakunle Olajide August 7, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Yes ma, it resonates with me. “Fear only breeds fear.” I am jumping that broom because i have been assessing the risk and i just have to take action now. Doing nothing is a risk. I am sharing this immediately; my decision.

    Reply
  2. Femi Diipo August 10, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Yeah it absolutely does. Fear always does some strange and terrible things that ones mind can completely forget the things that really matter and be just afraid of everything. There are just so many wonderful lessons in this article

    Reply
  3. Olushola Aderanti August 16, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    God bless you tremendously ma. This went deep into my soul. I love you.

    Reply
  4. Omolola August 16, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    I chase fear and do it afraid. This is so soothing. I feel like you saw what was happening to me.

    Reply
  5. DSEED August 20, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Decision making in life its such a very critical thing. Because you are left to take the blame if u eventually make a wrong decision and also receive praise if you make the right. The enemy to decision making is fear. Fear of the unknown. And to overcome fear we need God.

    Reply

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