Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You gotta make decisions.

     I'll admit it. I have the hardest time making decisions. I was at a Kohl's department store trying to buy a pair of shoes. I like have to have everything just perfect in the shoes because so many times I've bought shoes that felt great in the store and gotten them home and after a while they've hurt my feet, and I've been stuck with crappy shoes. Anyway  back to Kohl's. This young woman was helping me, feeling my shoes to see that my toes fit, that the shoes weren't too narrow, that they had sufficient arch... And I, after every fitting, and with every pair of shoes, would walk around Kohl's, testing them out— extensively. Well, the young woman who'd been helping me must've gone to lunch and I must've been there now for hours because when she came back in the shoe section she said: "Are you still here?!"
     "Well, yeah," I said kind of sheepishly. (What was I gonna say?)
      Why do I have such a hard time making decisions? First and foremost and overwhelmingly the answer to that question is I have a dreadful fear of making mistakes. It goes back to my childhood really. When I was little my mother would threaten withdrawing her love if I didn't obey her.
     For instance, when I was five I went to kindergarten for the class photo day and I wore my good pants. Well, my mother (a very loving woman who I loved dearly) warned me before I walked the two blocks to school: "Don't you put a hole in your good pants."
     Well, guess what? Uh-huh. But the thing is I was so scared to face my mother (and not a fear of physical punishment but just of disappointing her and accordingly losing her love) I didn't go home. I just stayed in the school playground after school until my mother came looking for me.
     Now sure, there are other reasons for difficulty making decisions but I think fear of one form or another is the biggest.
     But you gotta make decisions  I work hard on making more and more decisions. This experiment by Professor N.R.F. Maier of the University of Michigan involved rats in a situation where they were meted out arbitrary punishment and became so discouraged (trying to make decisions) that: "At this stage," Mr. Maier says, "many rats prefer to starve rather than make a choice."
     And there is a great documentary called "Touching the Void." It's about a mountain climber who falls a hundred feet down an icy mountain crevasse and how he deals with it. Badly injured, dehydrated, exhausted, not knowing if he should go up or down, not knowing hardly anything that might be a good way to go to escape his predicament he nonetheless thought that even 'making bad decisions, the wrong decisions was better than making no decisions at all.' (And yes, he got out of there.)
     A writer I like, Lucinda Bassett, talks (in regard to making decisions) about "gross imperfection and occasional chaos." And that sort of thinking helps me make decisions.  In other words, I don't need to be perfect. So what if the shoes don't fit right. So what (fill-in-the-blank).
     And the more decisions you make, the easier it gets.
     Don't let anything stop you from making decisions. Make your decisions, the world will go on. Make your decisions and keep making them. They'll get easier and easier as time goes by.

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