I always say, admittedly half-jokingly, that I don’t “do” decisions. What I mean is that I find it hard to make up my mind when presented with a choice. If Tigger asks “Where do you want to go today?” I just stare back at her, the wheels of my mind spinning like those of a car stuck in the mud.
I do make decisions, of course. I make them all the time, usually without even thinking about it. Shall I cross the road here so that I can look in that shop window or walk along to the pedestrian crossing? Should I go to Holland & Barret and then to Sainsbury’s or go to Sainsbury’s first? These are easy choices as it doesn’t much matter what I do, so there is nothing riding on the answer. If I am asked a direct question, it’s different: a feeling of responsibility clicks in (what if I make a bad choice?) and in my case, that’s deadly.
The problem is that I am a logical sort of person. Give me a problem that has a unique “right” answer that can be derived by some algorithm and you will get your answer, delivered with confidence. You may have to wait a while but it will come. The problem, for me, is all those choices that have to be made without sufficient evidence to distinguish one reliably from another. I think of myself as a realist which means most people consider me a pessimist: for each choice I can see all the disadvantages, actual and possible, and this paralyses the decision-making system.
I think I am getting better. I have come to see that many decisions are trivial: one alternative is as good as another or, putting it another way, if I choose Option A, it may turn out to be a disaster but, for all I know, Option B might have been even worse. Once you make your choice, you determine the course of history and it no longer makes sense to enquire what would have happened if you had chosen differently. You can never know. When in doubt, I have taken to mentally flipping a coin because I have realized that how things turn out depends as much on your attitude to events as events themselves.
I am a fairly cautious person, the sort who not only looks both ways before crossing the road but who looks several times before stepping off the kerb. But there is also a reckless streak in me. It appears ever and anon and both mystifies and intrigues me. I sometimes take a leap in the dark without stopping to consider the consequences. When I do this, it is both frightening and exhilarating but I always have a strange conviction that it is the right thing to do.
Perhaps that is why these reckless leaps have all worked out well for me: I have embraced each in the conviction that it was the right way to go. A decision can only be “wrong” if you decide it is wrong. If you accept it and all its consequences willingly, determined to see the best in everything, then it is hard to go wrong. Success and failure are conceits of the mind.
Right, I am off to meet Tigger for lunch. We have to decide where to go. Now, where did I put that coin?