Tag Archive: choices

How to make hard choices


I recently read Seth Godin’s blog on Difficult Decisions.  You know, those times when we need to make a decision about something we don’t want to deal with. Because the situation sucks, or there’s no great answer, or because whatever we decide will make us the “bad guy”.

In those times, all is not lost.  There are a few things you can do to make yourself feel – at least – like you’ve got something on your side.

  • First, admit it’s not the place you want to be, that you’d rather it was a better one. And then let it go. It is what it is.
  • Then, take a look at how you got here. This isn’t about self-criticism, but about critical discernment.  There’s a difference: doing the first is self-abusive and not needed; the second is helpful.
  • Review your options. Write them out so that they’re clear.
  • Then consider each one based on how it affects you energetically: when you think about that choice, does it energize you or deflate you? Then choose the option that gives you the most energy.

One thing I do know: in the end, I want to feel I did the best I could. Because that will feed my soul and give me energy. Anything else will deplete it and use me up.



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Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .

Who do you feed?

If you haven’t heard the story about the 2 wolves, here it is: It’s an ancient Cherokee legend.

A boy comes to his grandfather for advice because he’s raging inside over a fight he had with his friend.  His grandfather tells him there are two wolves inside him. One is good and is joy, peace, love, hope, kindness, generosity, truth, compassion – all the things that give our lives joy; the other is evil and is anger, envy, regret, greed, guilt, resentment, doubt, false pride – all the things that make us miserable.

The boy thought for a minute, and then asks his grandfather which wolf would win.

Grandfather replies: The one you feed.

Which is good and which is evil isn’t always so easy to figure out. Here’s another, more modern, story (you may be familiar with some version of it):

A woman – Jane, let’s say – is faced with a choice, and can’t decide which is the better one. She’s just been offered the promotion she’s coveted for over a year, but it would mean relocating.  That’s OK for her, but not so OK for her son and husband, who like where they are and friends, colleagues and great prospects that they’d lose if they moved.  She would feel great. They would feel terrible. What should she do?

She might talk herself into one choice or the other, without ever really being clear about what motivated her. After all, if I were to be offered the job of my dreams, I’d be pretty hard-pressed to turn it down, and might rationalize my way into going, only to discover my mistake when it was too late. Or, she might avoid that mistake by imagining that it had already happened – both alternatives.

Alternative 1 – moving with her husband and son.  Imagine a typical day living in her new place – being honest with herself, how she’d feel getting up, how it would be between herself and her family walking through the whole day like that.

Alternative 2 – turning the job down and staying put. Imagine this typical day in the same way as she’s imagined the first alternative.

Which feels good? Which doesn’t feel good?  Which choice gives her peace and joy, and which doesn’t? Martha Beck refers to something like this in her book Steering by Starlight. She calls it “Find the Feeling”.

Sometimes knowing which wolf we’re feeding takes some effort, but the pay-off is worth it.

Peace of mind.


Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist.  To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .