By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
Why is hard to make up your mind when you have multiple choices?
Choosing when you have multiple options can be difficult for several reasons.
There are two basic methods for making decisions, logical and emotional. As we saw in a previous post about Intuition neither way of making your choices is infallible.
Most choices are not clear-cut, all good or all bad. So we have to weigh the choices and then find some way of evaluating the good and the bad of each choice. When we get all done many of us fall back on our default mode to make our decision.
Not all choices are equal, so a fixed set of decision-making rules does not always work even though some people and some institutions adopt a systematic procedure for making those decisions. Below are some examples of choices
A good choice vs. a bad choice.
Which do you want ice cream or a beating? Ice cream good, beating bad, take the ice cream. Anyone having trouble making that decision?
Good vs. good.
At the party do you want cake or ice cream? This is a matter of preference, may take longer to decide but either is OK. It might be better if you could have both but that was not an option offered.
Good with the bad vs. bad with the good.
Your friend is having a party with cake ice cream and some champagne. You just went on a diet to get in shape for that reunion and you are trying to give up drinking. See friend and go off your diet?
You promised your workout friend that you would join her today at the gym. Last time you made an appointment she did not show. Go to the gym and work out to lose the weight but risk her standing you up again?
Now add more good and bad.
There is this cute guy from work that may be at the party, so might your ex.
There is this other cute guy that you met at the gym but your ex’s new girlfriend is now working there.
The more pros and cons we add the more difficult it becomes to make a decision.
Remember that whether you try to choose rationally or emotionally you run into problems making that decision.
Rationally you never have all the info you would need. Who will show up where? You can’t know ahead of time and if you attribute probabilities to these events that still does not solve the problem.
Which would be worse? Running into your ex or his new girlfriend or both of them together?
One common approach to solving this dilemma is to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle put the reasons for choosing one in one column and the reasons for choice two in column 2.
Not much help is it. Is the risk of getting ice cream instead of cake more or less important than the risk of seeing your ex or his new girlfriend? Not all reasons are equal. We get into some calculus to solve this equation.
Worst of all by the time you get all the info you need and get the math done, the party is over and the gym has closed.
Also, choice decisions do not always s include all the alternatives. Make sure that the best choice is not left off your list. Also as with the cake or ice cream example, sometimes our action as in asking for both can alter the options available.
One last decision problem – time.
A dollar today is not equal to a dollar a year from now. Neither is exercising or eating cake. You could go to a party now and then exercise next week. A few weeks of that and you will not need your gym membership. You also will not be in top shape for the class reunion and that was the reason for your exercise and get a healthy program in the first place.
Sometimes you need to trust your gut.
This impossibility of getting enough info and then assigning probabilities and so on is why much of the time we humans use intuition. Based on past experiences and the degree of your preference you will choose one way or the other and then have to live the consequences.
One last factor you need to consider is the importance of your goal. You might do something distasteful for money. Say your boss asked you to go to a function and make a speech and your ex might be there. Would you do it to please him? Would you do it for $1.00 how about $1,000,000? The bigger the rewards the more you might choose one option over the other.
But what about the size of the negatives? If one choice might alter your life forever in a bad way would that affect your decision?
So these kinds of choices are very personal and reflect not just the pros and the cons or the chances one thing or the other will work out, they also reflect your personal goals and values.
Your goals and values shape your choices.
To make better choices on difficult decisions you really need to get to know yourself, your goals, and your values. Then pick what is best for you.
Any comments from out there? Have you had to make a difficult choice and how did you finally go about deciding.
- When your mind magnifies your problems (counselorssoapbox.com)
- Are you a Functional Alcoholic? Do you know someone with an Alcohol Use Disorder? (counselorssoapbox.com)
- More on how to be happy (counselorssoapbox.com)
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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