Making big life decisions is something everyone struggles with – Is it the right time? Can I cope with this? What if it goes wrong? Should I go in a different direction?
An often used metaphor is that such difficulties can be due to a conflict between what the heart wants and what the head knows – a romanticised way of drawing a distinction between intellect and emotion. A good example on a small scale might be: I want chocolate; I know it’s not healthy. Now, before you go all ‘chocolate isn’t that bad’ on me, bear in mind that I don’t mean one chocolate bar, every now and again – I mean chocolate for breakfast, every chance I get.
So how do we decide?
Perhaps the most likely answer is that sometimes we simply ignore our heads and listen to our hearts. Other times, we ignore our hearts and choose with our heads. Either way, it seems plausible that we come to our conclusions by weighing up potential consequences and deciding whether we can live with them or not.
In the case of my love affair with chocolate, I’m aware that the consequences of indulging could be gaining weight, suffering ill-health, bad complexion, less money for books, etc. The consequences of denying myself are that I miss it, feel restricted, get cravings, etc. With this knowledge, I am able to make a decision based on whichever consequences seem to me, at the time, to be less severe or unbearable. *spoiler* I pretty much always choose to eat the chocolate.
Fortunately for me, this choice is a relatively simple one because there’s research available to add to my personal experience and give me a well rounded picture of what the effects of my actions might be. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case with larger and more complex dilemmas.
“What book shall I read?”
“Should I buy a potato chipper from Amazon?”
“What subject should I study?”
“Should I tell someone how I feel about them?”
“Should I move house?”
The list goes on and so do the crippling doubts, the paralysing insecurities, and the mental ping-pong game where you oscillate back and forth between yes and no, what if and why not.
Quite frankly, it can be exhausting.
So what’s the solution? Honestly, I don’t think there is one. It sounds like a terrible platitude to say that making bad decisions is a part of learning and growing. At the same time, I kinda think that it’s true. Sometimes, you just don’t know until you try.
That said – has anyone else ever bought a potato chipper and are they any good?