Remember how it felt, as a child or perhaps last week, to have to chose between the chocolate ice cream and the strawberry one, when you loved them both? Remember the agony of having to choose from a whole array of equally delicious flavours, knowing by choosing one, you were denying yourself the pleasures of the others?
Too many choices complicate our lives, increasing our anxiety and stress levels, if we let it.
In our modern lives we are bombarded with choices every minute we wake, from the clothes, jewellery, cosmetics and shoes we select, where and how we exercise, the breakfast food we eat from the array on offer in our homes, the type of coffee we can make or buy and so on throughout our day. We can thrive on variety and options, or we can feel more and more stressed.
The anxiety you feel is not only from the sense of missing out on those options not chosen, it is intensified when your levels of self trust are low. You second-guess yourself, doubt your own wisdom of choice and spend enormous amounts of energy agonizing over the ‘what ifs’. Other people’s opinions become important, but are often conflicting, with each other, and with your own ‘gut’ instinct, intensifying your confusion and misery.
Some people deal with this by zipping back and forth between options, but of course you can only walk on one path at a time so you waste enormous time and energy going sideways, slowing your progress. Remember, a cheetah only chases one antelope at a time if it wants to eat.
Others deal with the overload of choices by giving their choice to someone else to decide for them. This handing over of Personal Power is rarely satisfactory because people very rarely have our own values and underlying needs. It is also often a burden on the receiver, who also has spent the day making choices, though some love the extra control. It does have the advantage of you not having to take responsibility if the choice doesn’t work out. You can blame someone else, loud and long, or quietly resentfully.
It can start early in life, particularly if children aren’t given the opportunity to learn about choice making and consequences, and how to entertain themselves. It results in the “Mum, I’m bored!”, the classic handing over of responsibility. Later on the same teenagers can freeze on finishing school, overwhelmed by the choices they have in career paths and jobs, feeling they have to choose the one right option for the rest of their lives, and not knowing how. The brighter the child, the more lost they can feel, as the greater their choices.
For most of us the solution and path to peace of mind is to accept that “You can have anything you want in life, just not everything.” Build our self esteem and self worth so we can make a choice and be happy with that, gaining maximum benefit to the best of our ability, before choosing our next option and thoroughly exploring and enjoying that.
Building self esteem involves leaving your disempowering stories about yourself and your abilities in the past, where they belong. Building self esteem involves only going out into the future (those What Ifs) to imagine how well you can do, rather than how bad. It’s about giving yourself permission to learn, grow and evolve. No one does it perfectly first go, allow yourself to enjoy the learning process. Most of all, it’s about really living in the present, and finding happiness where you are, right now.
Another important aspect of comfortable choice-making is knowing who we are, what’s important to us, and where we want our life path to head. Being clear on our ultimate outcome, that is, our Big Picture for our life, and our goals or signposts along the way, makes it easier to make choices.
All you need to do then is ask yourself, will this bring me closer to or further from what I really want? Will this fried takeaway bring me closer or further away from my outcome of a healthy body for life? Will this promotion bring me closer or further away from my outcome of a close loving family life? Will buying this widget bring me closer or further away from my outcome of overseas travel each year?
In this way you can turn our modern day plethora of choices from a curse into a blessing, and regain your sense of control and peace of mind.
Feel free to comment with your thoughts or telephone me to discuss how to gain the clarity, confidence and motivation to let go and grow.