Reading time: 4 minutes Sep 25th 2017

What to do when you don’t know what to do

A number of times in my life, I’ve struggled with making a decision. I have felt like I lacked clarity and the certainty necessary to decide what to do. Such moments can often cause problems. The issue of being trapped in uncertainty and inaction can lead to its own set of problems.

There are theories out there which suggest that we have a number of different voices inside our head all with their own unique goals and agenda. These voices compete to convince us of what the right thing to do is or what the best thing to do is. In reality, depending on how we feel and which voice tends to be leading the charge, we are likely to believe anything. You could, however, see that the real problem is perhaps not the uncertainty or the inability to know what the ‘right’ decision is. Instead, it is possible that the very concept of what is ‘right’ or ‘best’ is actually the biggest problem.

In everyday conversations or, indeed, on social media when we argue with each other, we do our best to convince others that we are right in our opinions. We tell others what we think and we back our claims up with evidence. That evidence is specifically selected to make us appear correct. Now, if they disagree, they will attack our evidence or the relationship between our evidence and our claim and they will present their own opinion and back it up with their own specifically selected evidence.

When we are stuck in uncertainty, consider using this as a way of looking at how we think. Each inner voice, depending on our mood, will present an idea and then back that idea up with evidence that makes it appear true. Such evidence is specifically selected for the agenda of that voice. So, for example, if you are wondering if you should ask that person out or go for that job, your negative and fear based voice might scare you from doing it by suggesting they will say no or you will not get it. They will present arguments and evidence selected specifically to make you convinced that the worst will occur. The positive, optimistic and confident voice will suggest that the ‘best’ thing to do is to go for it and will present arguments backed up by evidence suggesting that you will succeed or, at the very least, you have a good chance. Furthermore, whatever the outcome, voices will argue about what the result, good or bad, means. Once more, they will suggest evidence that explains why it means what it means.

From all of this, I believe that to handle the decisions of our lives and to handle situations where we do not know the ‘best’ thing to do, it is important to change how we think about what is best. I like the idea of, instead of asking ‘what is the right decision’ that we ask ourselves how we can make whatever decision we make the ‘right’ one. This means that we do our best to examine different sides of an issue and explore evidence of all types but once we have decided, we do our best to make it work. It means we avoid beating ourselves up for the choices we have made. Instead, we learn the lessons and focus on making our current circumstances, whatever they may be, work out for us.

Sometimes the best decisions you make turn out the worst and the worst decisions you make turn out the best. Understanding that ‘not making a decision’ is a decision to ‘not make a decision’ itself, helps you avoid getting stuck too long in uncertainty. Life is not supposed to be a perfect stroll down a perfect pathway to a perfect destination. It is a path full of adventures. It turns forward and backward, to the left and the right and you continue to find your way along to a better future the best way you can. Instead of always trying to make the ‘best’ decision, focus on doing the best you can and know that sometimes, the best decision is the one you have taken, regardless.

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