Decisions, decisions, decisions
May 18, 2012 by
Categories: Self

“Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl, emphasis added.

I have yet another problem in life: I am so indecisive. I can go to the store to buy something, spend over an hour comparing products, and still come home empty handed. It drives my wife nuts. Honestly, sometimes it drives me nuts too. Most of the time, I can take preemptive measures by doing a lot of research on the internet beforehand, but sometimes I’m met with something new that I didn’t anticipate, and the lengthy process begins fresh. With decisions like this it’s annoying to be indecisive, decisions where it is important to have a concrete choice and commitment made. There are other decisions that we have to make that are not as easy as being either right or wrong. Sometimes being tentative with our choices in these situations is not all together bad.

Image by Ydiot

My last post talked about self-acceptance as a process in exploring who you are. I think another important process is choosing who you are. I believe that there is a lot of choice in this, that you are who you choose to be. I think problems can arise from deciding too early or making a firm decision in the first place without leaving room for new developments. I think there is a lot of pressure on adolescents, young adults, and even adults to have a stable identity. In fact, biologically, our brain expects it. But we are allowed some wiggle room, even by our brain, to grow as individuals. And this pressure to have a secure identity, I believe, doesn’t reflect reality–that we need to change in order to adapt to our environment. And these changes, should be made by conscious choice.

As I look back on my life at my heros, I have made choices in my life to become more like them, combining their characteristics into the person that I wanted to become. For example, my father’s way of giving his all to others; Paul Simon and his expression of self and emotions through music and lyrics (I actually learned to play the guitar because of him); my mother’s sensitivity to those around her. As I have grown, I have made other choices that have formed who I am at this moment: my education, friends who are in my life, and even characters from fiction. And as I have gotten older, I realize that there isn’t a final picture any more of who I want to be. Just a set of characteristics that I want to develop–each one by the choices that I make. And each experience I have and choice I make creates even more choices I want to make to develop characteristics that I hadn’t thought of.

Whew. This process sounds overwhelming, and it definitely can be. But it all boils back down to one thing: you are who you choose to be. It’s important to make sure that you are making the key choices and not other people. Allowing others to make our choices can be difficult to recognize in our lives. Sometimes we make choices because we feel it will please others (which isn’t necessarily bad, unless it is at a great expense to us), or because we are afraid of the consequences (which again, is not necessarily bad, unless it is at a great expense to us). Sometimes we need an outside observer to point it out to us, particularly if it is not healthy.

I mentioned earlier that there are some choices we make that are more concrete. There are choices like this that are also a part of who we are. For example, I made a choice to be a good father and husband. But within these choices are a lot of other choices that I have to make; some progressing me towards being a good father/husband, others not so much… So even though the choice to be a good father and husband is a stable part of my identity, it is fluctuating (although the trajectory, I hope is in that direction).

So, forget about the pressure of having a core, stable identity– continue to become the person you choose to be.

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