The only permanent choice you need to make is to be a good person.
I heard this phrase a few weeks ago while I was watching a TV show and it stood with me. It made me think about the relevance we give to our choices. And choices matter, don't get me wrong! I am all for being self-reflective and weighing own’s alternatives. Our everyday life is impacted, positively and negatively, by the choices we make. So, we must be responsible for them.
What I also know is that we are only human which means that sometimes we make crappy choices. Choices that do not make us happy. Choices they are not aligned with our values. Choices that we regret.
There are those who never second-guess their choices. They keep on going, despite the negative impact their choices may have on themselves and others around them. I’m not sure that I would call them self-absorbed, but they indeed lack self-awareness. Change is not unattainable, though the first step must be consciously taken toward developing more knowledge about oneself.
For those who constantly doubt their choices, you are on my mind while I am writing this post. First and foremost, I used to include myself in this group of people. Regardless of being a significant or small choice, I'd always start second-guessing myself. Sometimes after one or two weeks, sometimes right away.
During one of my many self-reflection journeys, I have identified this as an area for improvement. Since I am as much emotional as I am rational, I needed to have a certain framework to work with. Therefore, I made a commitment to myself that next time I had to make a choice, I’d evaluate the usual pros e cons, reflect on it, and make peace with my choice. Needless to say, “make peace with it” was the really challenging part!
I started this practice with small choices such as making the choice to drive or take the bus. Sounds rather absurd but let me provide a bit of context. In this case, driving would be faster and more comfortable, though driving makes me nervous so there is that. On the other hand, taking the bus is longer and less predictable but gives me more freedom while I am riding on it. Both have advantages and disadvantages. What would usually happen is that I would take my choice and immediately after I would be complaining about it and feeling guilty for not having chosen the other way around.
When I refer to this type of choice, I can also remember other ones associated with going out or not with friends, or which dish to pick at a restaurant. After had made that commitment to myself, I was able to consciously let go of the frustration or guilt that were usually attached to making a choice.
Eventually, I kept practicing with choices that required more of my emotional as well as cognitive investment. I remember choosing to do my coaching training when my first child was only 3 months old. This meant travelling with him (and my husband) by train, staying one week in that city, waking up at 5:30 am to fed him, spending most of the day away from him, pumping during my lunch break, while learning new concepts and socializing with new people. It may sound a tough choice for some of you. And I get it, a lot was happening at the same time! But it was a choice I made with my full commitment after weighing a considerable number of factors…and I would do it all over again today.
One of the last choices I made which I remember clearly was coming back to Portugal after having lived 6 and half years in Germany. Of course, this was not a choice taken alone nor in a minute. It took us approximately one and half years to act on that choice. Though when I look back, I feel that the choice was taken a long time ago, at least emotionally speaking.
If you have the impression that it is a magical process, I guarantee you that it is not. However, it is also not that complex as we let ourselves believe, nor as permanent. Choices are taken, but they do not have to last a lifetime. Choices are taken, but they do not need to define us. With the exception from what is mentioned in the initial quote – choosing to be a good person, that is a choice you should take every single day, consciously and willingly.
Next time you doubt yourself and consequently your choices, before going down that rabbit hole, just ask yourself: Am I being a good person? If yes, then whatever choice you take next is based on that premise and that is perfectly good enough.