It has been brought to my attention that “deciding” is a subject that needs discussion. Deciding — making a choice or a judgment about something — can carry such overwhelming heavy freight that it seems so much easier to decide…not to decide.
Not doing anything, though, can prolong pain, suffering and unhappiness. In not deciding, friends, you stay firmly stuck.
So how do you make good decisions?
First, allow yourself this idea: Life Is An Experiment. When you’re stuck, viewing yourself as a scientist who applies the scientific method to her hypotheses can give you a little room in which to move.
In the scientific method, you first make an observation and generate a hypothesis about what you observe. Then you come up with a predictable, rigorous way to challenge the hypothesis and you test it. If the data you collect in the test doesn’t support the original hypothesis, you get to change your underlying thought — and maybe move out of stuck.
Here’s an example: A 14 year old guy at his first high school dance has this tightly held belief that no girl would possibly dance with him. He’s never actually asked anyone to dance, mind you, but jumped right to a hypothesis, based on narrow observations of himself as a guy who is a little too skinny, or too fat, or too pimply, or too dorky. He thinks he’s not quite right in so many ways, so he assumes all girls share his observations (many of us make this leap, so let’s not be too hard on the lad).
Now, to test the hypothesis that no girl will dance with him: what can he do?
Why, he can ask a girl to dance.
My simple guideline is to test the hypothesis three times. So our young man needs to ask three girls to dance.
In his mind, as a scientist, he’s not opening himself to three bouts of rejection. No, sirree. He’s merely collecting three data points. Doesn’t that feel easier?
If one girl says “yes”, and one girl says “no”, then his results are inconclusive. It’s when he asks the third girl that his hypothesis is either proved or disproved.
But either way, look at what happened: he actually asked someone to dance. Regardless of whether Girl #3 dances or sits like a lump on a folding chair in the corner, our young man has actually put himself out there and done something he previously considered impossible. Just one girl saying “yes” tells him what’s possible.
When you face an obstacle in your own life and your hypothesis is something like “this will never work”, try the scientific method. Observe. Make a hypothesis. Construct a challenging test of your theory. Test it. Look at the results and change your theory if you need to.
When you view life as an experiment in which you simply collect data points, there is very little that needs to be perfect. You are just conducting tests that provide you with information you need to go forward.
Think of the hypotheses that may govern your life: “I can’t lose weight”, or “No one would hire me”, or “I’m too old to find a new job”, “I can’t tell my mother how I really feel” — and apply the scientific method.
Perhaps in the testing of your hypothesis you will find that the data don’t truly support your thinking. It’s simply your thinking that needs to change.
And then you’ll be unstuck.