Decisions and Mistakes

I’ve dreaded making decisions my whole life. I’ve always considered myself indecisive. The problem with making decisions was my fear of making a mistake. I was afraid of buyer’s remorse or being wrong or getting in trouble or disappointing someone. Mistakes cost me dearly growing up. I didn’t get in trouble, I got interrogated. Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Where was my common sense? How could I…?

My decisions were high stakes events, feeling like life or death. They were something that once made could not be changed. They must be lived with, accepted, suffered through and all consequences were mine. Just a wee bit of pressure there!

So for much of my life, I didn’t really make decisions. I just did the next “right” thing. I was polite, didn’t drink or smoke, did well in high school to get into a good college. I didn’t love my college, but there was nothing to be done about it. The decision was made. I chose my major immediately and worked hard. I graduated and had a job within weeks. I got engaged, bought a house, had kids, stayed home, went back to work, volunteered, took the kids to church, cooked, cleaned, organized, ran an efficient household, visited my family and cultivated my friendships. I was loyal, honest, dependable, thoughtful, considerate, disciplined…and boring!

What I couldn’t see was that by not making choices, I was still making choices. But they were socially acceptable choices and I got a lot of positive reinforcement for them, most of all from my parents. At 47, I was divorced, living on my own, and for the first time in my life, making my own decisions. It was delicious and liberating and only brought on minor waves of panic and fear.

Fast forward seven years and I’m getting pretty comfortable with making decisions. And here’s why. Because I’m a grown ass woman and can decide what I do and don’t want. I can change my mind after I’ve made a decision. Some of my decisions are better than others. When things go wrong, I make the next decision. There aren’t many that are truly high stakes.

I still listen to podcasts and ask my friends’ opinions and read articles, but then I get quiet. I write. I take walks. I listen to my thoughts. I listen to my body. I listen to my heart. I consider my needs. And I make a decision. If it doesn’t work out, I change it or accept it and move on. I worry way less about what others will think or how it will look. Making decisions empowers me and reminds me that my thoughts, feelings, wants and needs hold value.

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