Do you ever make a decision only to second guess it at the last minute? Because this is what I’ve been doing my entire life. I can’t even successfully complete a multiple choice test without second guessing the minutiae. It’s what I do. And I’m good at it. So as I began second guessing yet another mundane decision as I made my coffee I realized that the commonality between decisions and second guessing is quite simple. It’s confidence. Or lack there of. And that’s when I realized that I’ve been approaching decision making all wrong.
Making the Right Decision
Decisions are, in and of themselves, lessons on how to make decisions. It seems redundant to say it like this, but the devil is in the details. Because it’s important to realize that, while we’ve been making big and little decisions throughout daily life, they’ve all been practice. But contrary to what we would usually think, making decisions is not practice for making the right decision.
Change of Perspective
We need to let the idea of the “right decision” go. There is no “right” decision. Just ones whose outcomes make us feel better. Rest assured whatever decision you make will get you to your goal. It’s how you feel about your decisions which will determine the pace and grace in which you get there.
Which of course leads us back to the idea of “mistakes.” How could anything possibly be a mistake? Everything has led you to this very point. And if you don’t like where you are then you need to adjust your opinion of it. Get a clearer picture of where you want to go instead of staring into the past and second guessing all the decisions which led you here. Because if there is any truth to the saying, “you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be” then we must shift our perspectives about our decisions in order to gain the wisdom necessary to continue on with life’s journey.
But What If…
The “what if” is a real bruiser, especially for me. I absolutely hate second guessing. It’s frustrating, maddening even. But like most people, I’ve gone through life with the perception that decision making is the opportunity to make a “good” or “right” decisions. And all my “mistakes” are a result in poor decisions. What’s more, I keep thinking of decisions as the path which will get me to my goal. Not realizing that the goal is inevitable. It’s how I’m handling the path to the goal which makes decision making painful.
And so whatever decision I make, the process is wrought with endless contemplation only to make a choice and wind up with the illusion that I didn’t apply the right thoughts, have all the details, or remove enough emotion to ensure that it was the “right” decision.
And so my lack of confidence serves up the perfect opportunity to second guess everything. I am like a walking example of the psychological principle of Buyer’s Remorse. Essentially the second guess is living in the past, albeit the immediate past, but the past nonetheless.
My Decisions & Embracing Existentialism
As I explore existentialism, I’m beginning to realize that every time I begin to wonder if I made the right decision I reinforce to myself that I don’t know how to make decisions. I was always told that I have to “think twice.” So I upped the ante and think way too much. Award winning over thinker, right here! This is probably a habit I formed long ago so my sensitive child-self didn’t get in trouble. And yet I still seem to always tell myself that I made the “wrong” decision. And I spend entirely too much time tending to the seed of regret my second guesses plant. But this journey has shown me something extremely valuable.
Through my free will, I have come to be exactly where I’m supposed to be. (This applies to you, too.) Every decision I’ve ever made has landed me here. And no matter where I think I should be, or wish I was, this is the Panglossian “best of all possible worlds.” And so whether I made an educated decision or just guessed, all roads would have still led me to this point right here. The real distinction is how I made the decision. Because the feeling the action of deciding conjures is how we determine “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong.” And for me, I always made decisions with worry. But now I am coming to realize something infinitely more important.
A Decision to Decide
So now I’m somewhere between testing a new theory and surrendering to what I have learned after spending all that time in my darkness. I’ve come to realize that control is an illusion, no matter how much I think I need it. All those over-circulated memes are right. Stress and depression are symptoms of wanting to control the future. So, I’ve decided to have faith. But not (necessarily) in a higher consciousness. In myself.
More Accurately: A Confident Decision
Trusting that we are en route to our goals no matter what makes making a decision that much easier. Then, removing the need to qualify decisions as “good” or “bad” and you will completely relieve the need for a second guess. You see, we have an opportunity to learn from our decisions, and not just by their outcomes. With each decision we make we learn how to make the next one better by looking at the process we used to arrive at our decision. This is what builds our confidence.
It’s pretty easy to examine our level of confidence by taking an objective look at how we rank our past decisions and rate their impact on our current reality. But in doing so, don’t forget that being objective means being honest and vulnerable. And it’s important that we do this. Because confidence is what builds trust in ourselves. And trust is rooted in knowing that we have paid attention to the details and considered the impact of our decisions before taking action.
But Don’t Get Too Cocky
As with anything, the more we practice making decisions and trusting ourselves, the better we’ll get. And the better we get, the easier it is. But as it gets easier we should know not to be complacent. Because confidence can very easily beget arrogance. So we should remain focussed on what makes us confident decision makers. And that is taking the lesson from all other decisions we’ve made. And what’s the lesson? Not the particular outcome, but realizing and considering the many possible outcomes and working these possibilities into the process.
Decisions from the Darkness
As I wrote this piece I thought about conscious creation. If we truly influence our reality with our thoughts, then what kind of indecisive message am I communicating? Consciousness never second guesses us, so why are we second guessing ourselves? Which made me wonder if my need to second guess myself was a call to the darkness. The experience of my life to this point had definitely shaken my confidence. To my core. And in order to begin to rebuild myself and my confidence, I had to gain a better understanding of myself. And that’s what confidence is. It is knowing ourselves well enough to be decisive.
From the Darkness and Into the Light
There is power in decisive action. It is not fearless nor fearful, simply calculated by applying earned knowledge. And this is the journey. If you want to enhance your experience in the outer reality, you must let it all go and work on the inner. And by “let it all go,” I don’t mean sell your belongings and live a life of poverty. I mean begin to focus inside. Let the outer simply be, it isn’t going anywhere. And soon you will begin to see subtle, compounding changes appear as you begin to change your perception of yourself.