Facing a difficult decision? Therapist offers advice on how to do it without regrets

Two keys to making a difficult choice without regrets are planning and thought beforehand.
Two keys to making a difficult choice without regrets are planning and thought beforehand.

What makes it easy for some of us to make difficult decisions and live with the consequences, while for others the process can be plagued with misgivings and regret?

Centerville psychotherapist Amanda Matthias says we are living in unprecedented times. “I know many families are dealing with a difficult decision right now when it comes to whether or not to send kids back to school this fall,” she says. “It is all about the planning and thought we engage in prior to making a decision that makes a difference in our ability to accept and live with the consequences once the decision has been made. We cannot prevent the storm from coming, but we can prepare for it.”

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According to Matthias, making a difficult choice is all about planning and thought.

Centerville psychotherapist Amanda Matthias. CONTRIBUTED
Centerville psychotherapist Amanda Matthias. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED

Here are some of her tips:

  • Take the time to consider your own values. What is important to you? What do you stand for?
  • Reach out to others whom you respect and admire to get their opinions and perspectives.
  • Take time to imagine living with your decision prior to making it. Very often what can provide angst when making a decision is fear of making the wrong choice. Regardless of the outcome, it is important to acknowledge that you can handle it. Allow your faith in yourself to be stronger than the fear.
  • Once you have made the decision it is important not to ruminate about it. By continuing to weigh options even after you have made the decision, you prevent yourself from being happy with any decision. In other words, make the decision, own it and then get on with the business of enjoying life.
  • Remind yourself that you have done your homework and that you made the best decision for you and your family based on the information that you had at the time. Then, as you move forward, recognize that you may continue to feel stress related to this decision. That is why being intentional about practicing healthy behaviors such as exercise, good sleep habits, good nutrition and relaxation management is so important.
  • Even after all the preparation, if you discover your decision did not play out as you had hoped it’s OK to change course. Too often people let pride get in the way and worry about what others will think if they change their minds.
  • For those who are struggling with decisions that are being made for you, identify the things that you feel are missing or difficult and find ways to supplement accordingly. For example, perhaps your child’s school has chosen to go all remote and you are worried about the effect separation from friends will have on his or her mental health. If this is the case for you, consider forming a “social pod” with a few other families where you all agree to certain conditions to follow as a group.
  • If your school has decided to offer only in-school options this fall and you are worried about the risk this could have to your child and others consider looking into online school options. In other words, if you find yourself feeling you are outside of your comfort zone, look for ways to regain control of your personal situation. If you have done your homework, trust yourself. You know what is best for you and your family.

“We are living in unprecedented times,” says Matthias. “Be gentle on yourself and recognize that no one knows exactly how all of this is going to play out. By staying informed and checking in with your family about how the decision is going, you can make adjustments if/when necessary.”

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