The Horn's Rob Hicks gives advice to someone who fears they made the wrong choice about something.
I read in one of your earlier columns how you advocated making a choice and living that choice. Unfortunately, I’m to the point where I found the choice I made is not the one I should have. However, while it’s easy to say “change that choice”, what do I do if changing seems impossible? In other words, how do you find peace when you’ve made the wrong choice and now you’re stuck with it?
Hopeful but grounded
A completely egocentric response would be to tell you that no matter what, you can always change your choice. And it’s true. You could be married with kids and want to live on a mountaintop by yourself (and your secretary), or you might have spent all your money on Pop Rocks and coke (I really am referencing candy and soda) and wished instead you had a payday of 100 Grand’s. If there’s a will, there’s a way to change your mind, but be careful, living selfishly exacts a higher price than living in relation to others. You might find immediate gratification, but you won’t find lasting satisfaction.
What we want and what we think we want are dynamic desires. As such, they shift continuously and can depend on your mood, whether or not you just ate that pint of ice cream in the freezer, the amount of money in your pocket, and a variety of other factors. When we’re unhappy, we’re quick to think of solutions that will fix the immediate problem. These short-term answers might alleviate the pain for the time being, but when all is said and done, you’ll find that any choice is only as good as your mindset. If who you are is unhappy, if in the core of your being you aren’t content, then nothing you say or do is going to change that.
Choices seem permanent because we’ve vested everything we are into the people and things around us. We become deterministic in our decision-making, pretending that as soon as one last thing has fallen into place, life will be easier. The truth is most of the time, our decisions aren’t the problem. We are. When the going gets tough, we dream about greener pastures. We look at others and see the facades given us and wish for nothing more than the carefree attitude that everyone but us seems to possess. It’s a trick, though. No one has the secret. Life was never easy and life will never be easy. It’s a byproduct of our cognizance, this ability to wish for more. Unfortunately, instead of turning inward to find it, we believe it’s up to the world to give it to us.
Changing your mind daily, monthly, yearly will never bring you that peace. You made your decision. Now it’s up to you to find out whether it really was the wrong choice and what to do about it. Is there really something better elsewhere, or are you just giving up? Spend enough years building your castles on shifting choices, and you’ll eventually end up with nothing. People make bad choices and people recover from bad choices. Or, people make bad choices and turn them into good decisions. It’s up to you. Don’t be static in your thought processes. Think something through both before and after you do it. But don’t stop with your discontent. Try to find the source of it; try to root it out and bring it to light. Stop blaming the world for your unhappiness and start loving yourself. I promise that whatever it is you’re worried about will pass (this holds especially true for gas). Take your time, and if you come to the conclusion that you really did make the wrong decision and you’re not just overreacting, then change something. You should never live solely by emotions, and you should never rely fully on logic, but taken together and mixed with a small amount of patience and understanding, you’ll find life gets a little brighter with each passing moment.