Why Can’t I Decide? Part 1 - The Privilege of Choice

Why Can’t I Decide? Part 1 - The Privilege of Choice

Growth

3

min read

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What should I choose? 

We seem to have more options to select from than ever before. Whether it’s a day to day occurrence like a “simple” coffee order, a spontaneous opportunity like a holiday getaway or longer-term considerations like a career move, life partner, or a location to settle in.

It is great that we have so much freedom of choice. Right? 

Well, maybe not as much as I originally thought.

You see, in my work as a life coach and business advisor to clients who range in age from early 20s to 50+, I found that most struggle with the plethora of options available to them.

I thought that the ability to choose how they want to live their life ought to be a freeing endeavor but in reality it can feel quite the opposite - burdensome, enslaving, anxiety-inducing.

And on honest self-reflection, I realize I also can also struggle with the same challenge.

It led me on a quest to ask on behalf of my clients and myself “Why are options so overwhelming and if we have the freedom of choice, how do we derive the benefit of it without drowning in indecision?”

And in this four-part writing series I aim to offer a response.

While it’s tempting to get stuck into identifying and solving the key challenges that come with choice, I think it’s important to start with a foundational posture.

And the posture is this: Recognise that having choice is a privilege.

If we have time to stop to think about life, if we can design possible pathways for our life, if we can make a choice a reality because we have access to resources like people connections and money, then we are privileged. 

While privilege is a loaded word in today’s culture, at its core privilege simply means an “advantage held by a particular person or group”. 

The reality is that some can’t choose their career. Or choose to change their career 

Some can’t choose a life partner. Or choose to leave one.

Some can’t choose where to live. Or where they end up spending the rest of their lives. 

In other words, the advantage is in our agency. Our ability to directly influence an outcome such as being able to get or create a job with more flexible hours so I can look after my kids is an advantage, a privilege that some have and some don’t. 

So why is recognising we have the privilege of choice even important?

Is it a simple perfunctory handwave in an age of increasing cultural sensitivity?

Is it meant to be a guilt trip or a way to then compel us to suppress the choice we’ve been given and simply “suck it up” if life is miserable for us at the moment?

Recognising choice as a privilege, an advantage or as a gift is an expression of gratefulness, and research shows that having an attitude of gratitude not only improves our emotional well-being but also fosters better decisions.

The general importance of gratitude has ironically become more appreciated in an age of increasing mental health challenges, depression and anxiety. Extensive bodies of gratitude research and studies (such as this one from Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami) demonstrates that those who practice thankfulness were more optimistic, felt better about their lives and more able to face challenges. And this in turn, helps individuals make better decisions.

Gratitude also helps with our decision-making by enabling patience, which can prevent us from jumping hastily to the first or most convenient option. When we learn to “count our blessings”, we learn to draw more of our attention to see what we already have and less on what we don’t have both now and in the future. When we’re less stressed and worried about the future, we are less likely to hurry into a decision and are more likely to make space to conceive new options and invite alternate opinions and advice. Important ingredients in the recipe of making better decisions!

So anytime we find ourselves knee deep in the drama and discomfort of needing to make a choice, it seems like we can’t go wrong by returning to a place of gratitude. It’s free, we can begin using it immediately, and it can help us feel better about ourselves and our current situation, help us take the time we need and ultimately help us make better decisions. 

With a posture of gratefully receiving the gift of choice, it seems like we are better equipped to dive deeper into the challenges of having choices.

In the next installment, we look at why we find it difficult to make a decision and the “pre-decision drowning” and overwhelm that comes with it. 

Live whole,

James

p.s. If you want to take serious action beyond reading, set up a time here and we will have a conversation about options to get you moving on a new trajectory starting now.

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#liveholystic #privilegeofchoice #difficultdecisions #coaching #holistichealth

LiveHolystic Coaching & Consulting operates on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam) and other Coast Salish Peoples. We thank these First Peoples who continue to live on these lands and care for them, and whose relationship to these lands existed long before the founding of Canada or British Columbia

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LiveHolystic Coaching & Consulting operates on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam) and other Coast Salish Peoples. We thank these First Peoples who continue to live on these lands and care for them, and whose relationship to these lands existed long before the founding of Canada or British Columbia

Newsletter

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© 2023 LiveHolystic. All rights reserved.

LiveHolystic Coaching & Consulting operates on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the šxʷməθkʷəy̓əmaɁɬ təməxʷ (Musqueam) and other Coast Salish Peoples. We thank these First Peoples who continue to live on these lands and care for them, and whose relationship to these lands existed long before the founding of Canada or British Columbia

Newsletter

Privacy Policy

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© 2023 LiveHolystic. All rights reserved.