COLLEGE PARK, MD –
It’s the difference between being our own person and being someone else’s.
We’ve touched on one of the impediments to living deliberately before – not being able to make decisions.
The gist of that previous reflection is that many of us can’t make decisions because we lack principles that are prerequisites to decision-making.
But, even those with the principles to make a decision often get tripped up at the point of execution.
Whenever a decision is made, it is usually marking the beginning of a change. There is always anxiety with change. That is something that won’t change.
Most of us try and avoid anxiety at all costs. We see it as something to distance ourselves from.
[Here when I refer to anxiety I am only referring to anxiety that is triggered by making decisions, not clinical anxiety.]
That’s why we often refuse to make decisions. We feel the anxiety of the impending change, and the alert bells start ringing. Since making a proactive, deliberate decision is ours to make or abstain from, most of us choose to abstain.
This is different from a change we have no choice but to cope with. When a new normal is thrust upon us, we may not be happy about it but we also won’t be anxious about it either.
So the choice is to live deliberately – to have principles, live by them, and accept the associated anxiety that creeps about when decisions are made – or avoid anxiety by defaulting to whatever changes are made for us.
To make the first choice requires letting go of our refusal to feel anxiety. This allows for two things: proactive decisions and exhilaration.
We either go through life numb to sorrow and joy, or we accept that to experience joy we must be willing to entertain the possibility of sorrow.
Often, even, experiencing sorrow is a precursor to experiencing joy.
So when it comes to making decisions, we must be willing to accept the anxiety that comes forth with them. We must have pushed responsibly for an improvement and have faith in the process we’ve undertaken.
Then we must accept vulnerability and anxiety.
That’s an expensive price to pay. That’s why most of us won’t pay it.
However, if we do accept to pay up, I believe we’ll see that the price is well worth the return.
The return is nothing less than the exhilaration of actualization.
When we’ve taken our lives seriously, deliberated over them, chartered a course for improvement, and begun making decisions, it is very exciting to see even the smallest indication that actualization of the vision has taken root.
It is, indeed, exhilarating. It is also fulfilling.
What is very promising about all of this is that there is a snowball effect. We can start with very small decisions that are less seemingly risky or consequential, like deciding to take the stairs instead of the elevator, and overcome the obstacles to that tiny improvement.
Then we can decide to read a book instead of consuming content on an electronic device, perhaps. And like so we’ll get used to how decisions are made – the process is the same no matter how big or small the decision is.
Once we get used to how to make decisions, the sky is the limit. Our lives can then be a series of improvements we decide to struggle for, taking on bigger and bigger goals each time.
It’s not easy, but it sure is fulfilling.