There has not been a time in the past decades that making decisions has become so difficult. Do we fly to visit our family in the MidWest? do we wear a mask while visiting our friends? Do we go dancing? Do we visit our mother or grandmother when we have been socializing without a mask? Who is it that ultimately makes our decision? Do we make the decision ourselves or do we refer to others to decide for us? Are these decisions driven by what is in our heart or are we making a decision because of what is expected of us? As a therapist I am very hesitant to tell someone what they"should" do. If I give them advice or decide for them, than, I am at least in part responsible for the outcome of their choice. I personally don't want that responsibility. In addition I believe it is typically better for a person to choose for themselves. There are times, however, when I do provide direction when someone is really stuck, or their life might be in danger. Can we trust our emotions to help us identify our needs, or provide some direction for our behavior or actions? We know for sure that our thoughts are not always reliable. Sometimes they just don't tell us the truth. Since our emotions are often generated by our thoughts, our emotions may not be reliable at times either. Although our emotions may not always be reliable they are an important source of information about what we need, and what might be the needs of those we care about. In addition our values can be an extremely valuable source of information and direction. Since our own thoughts and emotions may not always be reliable, does that mean we should blindly trust the thoughts and emotions of someone else? Are their actions and behavior driven by pleasure seeking, altruism, caring, and rational thinking? What are their values? Sharing our struggles and getting feedback from others can be invaluable as we are considering our actions. This is provided that the other has a certain degree of wisdom and that they have our interest and well-being in mind. Ultimately we need to decide for ourselves, trust our own opinion, and act on what is in our heart, not what someone else thinks we should do. If we are fortunate we live in a family or subculture which supports individual decision making, and demonstrates respect for others decisions, decisions that are different from theirs. It appears that in today in our culture this is often not the case. What is more important to us, doing what is in our own heart and acting according to our own values, or being overly concerned about what others think of us. Unfortunately when we have the "courage" to make our own decisions, there is often a price to pay. Sometimes the price is very high!
Making Decisions in our Current Social Environment
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