Written by: Lane Gormley, EdS, LPC, NCC
What is it that makes people who have just entered therapy, people who are admittedly beginning a difficult process, want to make sudden, life-changing decisions? Kathryn C. (*not her real name) was in early sobriety. She had been in therapy just two months when she came into session one day and announced, “I’m trying to decide whether or not to divorce Tommy.”. I said, “Hold on a minute there. This is no time for divorce… Or decisions “. I did not mean that she should not divorce Tommy ever. I only meant that a time of great personal change (early sobriety + early therapy) is not an optimum time to make one’s best decision. Early sobriety and early therapy are times of fluctuating emotion; desires and plans based on them are maximally changeable. So, one thing I tell my Clients is: When in doubt, do nothing.
Here are some suggestions that I give to Clients to facilitate decision-making:
1) Make a list. Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On one side write down the pros for deciding one way. On the other side, write down the cons. Look at it for a while. Make adjustments if needed. Daydream about it.
2) If you like to write, write about your options – what you think, what you feel, what you fear, the best possible outcome, and the worst case scenario. Write everything you know about the decision to be made and the process of making it.
3) Read out loud what you have written. You may hear yourself say something about the decision that you did not know.
4) Pray about it if that is helpful to you. Then, sit or walk in silence. Be quiet. Be open. Trust that the answer is in the silence. The teacher of the young Indian man who taught me to meditate wrote:
If you want to fish, you must go onto the water. If you want to meditate, you must go into the silence. Water is the medium of fish. Silence is the medium of God.
By the way, silence is helpful even if you do not have a religion or spiritual beliefs.
5) Then, when you can or when you have to, take your best shot. DECIDE.
Don’t look back. No Monday morning quarter-backing. No coulda-shoulda-oughta. As they say in poker, “Play it as it lays”.
A decision can mean a change in our life, a turn in our path. The Universe guides us no matter what direction it sends us in. If you have a really difficult decision to make and you are uncomfortable about making it alone, come in and talk to us.