Decision-making discomfort


Sometimes, people put off acting on a difficult decision because they suspect it will involve uncomfortable emotions or circumstances. They can feel deep down that staying on their current path is violating their values or prompting them to not be true to themselves or is in some way unhealthy for themselves or others, but choosing a different path seems too painful or daunting. They end up avoiding the long-term benefits of making a good decision to avoid the short-term discomfort of sadness or uncertainty.

It can be easy to get caught up in the illusion about decision-making that it’s necessary to first know if the outcome will be “right” in order to act. While it is important to weigh suspected outcomes, the reality is that results may be so complicated that it might not be possible to know right away – if ever – whether things are better or worse because of a choice. Sometimes, the consequences of decisions are immediate: going to jail after deciding to break the law or discovering you’ve avoided a potential accident or breakdown on the road by deciding to have your car’s rattle checked out. Other times, you don’t know who you would have met or how you would have grown on your own had you not been pouring your time and energy into maintaining a relationship that is ultimately incompatible or what experiences you might not have had if you hadn’t taken a chance that a relationship with someone might be just what you both need.

Uncomfortable emotions are a natural part of life. Sad things happen. Discouraging things happen. Things that have the potential to inspire anger or fear or doubt happen. If you practice experiencing and managing these uncomfortable emotions, your skill-building efforts will have taught you that you can handle them when you have to move through them as they accompany a difficult decision. Fear of short-term emotions won’t be an additional reason why you avoid making a choice that could lead to many positive emotions and circumstances in the long term.