“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” – Muhammed Ali
I was helping a woman work through some points a while back. She had her daughter along. We were spitballing some ideas and different approaches.
Towards the end her daughter spoke up and started pointing out what she did and didn’t like. I was really impressed!
She just knew: “That, that and that. I don’t like that. Nor that. Oh, that one’s great. But this is my faaavorite!”.
“Right” or “wrong”, she just made up her mind instinctively. When I asked her about why she just said: “I don’t know why, it just makes me feel happy!”.
While two adults with experience and knowledge sat there hemming and hawing this kid just went with what made her feel happy. Since we couldn’t reach any conclusion by weighing pros and cons I asked her what she didn’t like so we could exclude that. Boy was that one easy! We were left with 3 choices and finally let the kid decide. Unfortunately her favorite wasn’t among the choices. But she made a good one!
It’s OK not be 100% sure about what you want in the small choices or the big ones. It’s easy to get stuck when there are a million and one flavors to choose from.
What you should do is to eliminate what you don’t want right off the bat. That thins the herd a bit.
You could rely on chance by flipping a coin or just choose something and stick to it. Damn, did I just give you one option too many?
There’s something that’s called “decision fatigue”. We experience it when we’re overwhelmed by the choices presented to us. It can actually hinder more than help us unless we’re superconfident about picking and choosing.
When we’re at the mall and meet a wall of different jeans some of us are like: “Wieeh!”, others are like: “whoa, this is gonna get tricky” and some are like: “Fuqit, i’m out!”. Then there’s the occasional: “Things? Not for me thanks!”.
By knowing what to say no to you’ve got a good start.
I had another situation where I luckily had the balls to say no even though it hurt the other guys. I was dealing with a lot myself at the time so I just couldn’t handle it. My usual reaction would’ve been “Yes, i’ll do it!” even though it would’ve been to the detriment of my own project.
They were kind of counting on me to say yes this time as well and it set them back a little while causing extra stress. It worked out in the end though. Also, now they know that they have to plan better and not rely on someone else to jump in last minute. Win-win!
There’s another technique that I learned is effective. Usually when things get tough we as adults are taught to “handle it”. Either we just keep our claptrap shut or we say something. A group of us were having this heated debate about what direction the project should go in. People were belittling each other. Some harsh words were exchanged. I felt like jumping across the table and choking someone.
I’d only jokingly said to a friend: “I wonder how the other person would react if they were talking about something you didn’t want to hear and you just left the conversation? You went away without a word with a blank stare on your face.”.
I couldn’t handle the bullshit flying around. So, I got up without a word and just went out of the room.
It. Felt. Awesome!
I felt so free. Like “no thanks, not having any of that today”. The best thing was that they continued to argue and didn’t care that i’d left.
Unfortunately this has happened a couple of times since and i’ve felt too invested to get out of the room or just kept quiet. Only once has it benefited me to stay in an argument and that’s because I wasn’t invested in the outcome as much as the other people so I could keep my head cool.
I’ve tried counting to 10, i’ve tried to just breathe for a while. Those work great in one on one interactions or small groups. I recommend you trying the breathing, it clears your mind and you have time to reflect calmly. Something we don’t really do enough of these days.
It does however NOT work as well in large groups where people keep talking and reacting on what other people are saying. Maybe if we had a “talking stick” or something?
Some people might think of this as a sign of weakness. Brave and strong people stay and fight, right? Well, only if it serves a purpose.
Like we’ve talked about we have 3 ways of reacting to fear or stress: fight, flight or freeze. In some cases it’s beneficial to fight, in some to flee and in others to freeze. Choose the appropriate one.
You could think about different situations and reflect on what your natural response would be. If your natural response is to flee, then think about what would happen if you’d fight or freeze. Does fleeing still seem like the best solution? Then stick to it, otherwise try one of the others next time.
After you’ve reacted make sure to complete the circle. Don’t let the fear, anger or stress stay in your mind and body. It’s served its purpose. Do some meditating. Go through the the situation in your mind, find out what you can learn from it that’ll benefit you in the future. Then go out and get physical! Maybe try out some trauma release execises (TRE)?
Whatever strategy you end up using begin by just saying no!
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
“If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t.” – Chuck Palahniuk
“You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.” – Paul Simon
“I’m tough, ambitious, and I know exactly what I want.” – Madonna
“When you know what you want, and want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it.” – Jim Rohn