The Choices We Make

Have you ever stopped to think about the choices you make – why do you choose what you do? What drives your decision?

I am terrible at making decisions, from the really important ones to even the most mundane, insignificant ones. Being a HSP (highly sensitive person) doesn’t help either. It’s like I can’t help but see all the options, all the possibilities, all the outcomes. I can’t help but worry about making the wrong decision, even if the wrong decision is merely ending up at a restaurant that isn’t that good.

It becomes even harder to make decisions that involve other people, particularly people that I care about. I’m fine tuned to think about what other people want first. I can’t distinguish what I want from what I think other people want. It can be draining sometimes trying to figure out what other people want too- people seem to struggle with saying what they really want.  So often, we make choices based on what we feel we “should” do, what society tells us is the right thing to do. But what do we really want?

Tonight, I couldn’t decide what to do about something. There were too many people involved and I couldn’t tell what they really wanted. In every outcome, something felt off. What if I’m imposing? What if they only asked out of some obligation? That wasn’t the plan – what if they just feel pressured? What if that involves too much effort on my part and it’ll be weird if I actually go? Regardless of whether I wanted to go or not, I couldn’t tell if they really wanted me to or if they just felt like they had to extend an offer.

I tried to ask myself – do I actually want to go? Or do I just feel like I have to go out of guilt? I thought maybe for once I should just decide based on what I actually wanted and not worry about what anybody else wanted. Doing this was harder than I thought.

At first glance, it felt like guilt. I felt bad at the thought of not going. I felt like I “should”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t really tell what I wanted anymore. If I didn’t go and I stayed home, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it anymore. But if I went, there was a good chance I’d enjoy it, especially if it seemed like they did. So was that feeling actually guilt? Or was it something else?

I don’t think it was. If I didn’t go, I’d feel bad, not because of guilt but because it was now what I wanted. If somebody I care about wants me to do something (in most cases, but not all – I will say no if I won’t be happy at all), I will want to too, simply because they do. My choices are inextricably linked to how other people feel, and what other people want. I can’t tell what I want sometimes, because what I want is for the other person to be happy and do what they want. And if I don’t know what the other person wants, then I don’t know what to choose. I want the people I love to be happy. That’s my choice.

I don’t care if that means I don’t do what I initially planned. I don’t care if that means I have to drive a bit more. I don’t care if that means I stay up a little late once in a while. If it’s important to someone, then it’s what I want to do. But I need to know that it’s important.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do have a preference for something and I definitely don’t always choose what other people want. I’m no saint. But in those cases, I usually don’t have a hard time making the decision.
All in all, I am terrible at making decisions, because it’s not always easy to know what will make us happy.

I think we could make it easier for everyone, if we stop saying things out of guilt or obligation, and are honest with each other in what we want. I know I do it too sometimes. If we’re up front with others about what we want and what we would enjoy, then there’s no guessing, there’s no assuming, there’s no doing something that neither of you really want to do because you thought the other person did. I would be better at making decisions if I knew honestly where other people stood. Would you?

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