Do Your Decisions Come From Fear or Avoidance or Desire?

Traffic sign - choose Fear or DesireWhere our decisions come from emotionally makes a big difference in terms of how we get to where we want to go. For example, someone who desires to be happily married and has no fear or doubts about this happening one day is more likely to attain that goal. However, someone who has been hurt or disappointed often in life, especially in a career or relationship, may choose another path that feels safer to them. One that has lower risk of being hurt or disappointed. But with this path come consequences of those choices. If we play it “safe” in our career we may not try for promotions. Or we choose a career out of practicality rather than passion. Or in dating we may choose someone who does not grab our heart to avoid getting hurt one day when they suddenly leave. But these decisions can have a significant cost to them…….Lack of Happiness and Fulfillment.

Making Choices out of Fear or Avoidance

What would that look like?

  1. Being attracted to someone but not asking them out on a date because of fear of rejection
  2. Realizing you have strong feelings for someone and breaking off the relationship because you feel they may leave you and you will be heart broken
  3. “Serial” dating to avoid committing to one special person for fear of feeling “trapped” or losing yourself in the relationship
  4. Avoiding social contact for fear of saying something “stupid” or making a fool of yourself
  5. Not standing up to someone for fear they will reject you or pull away from you. This often happens with a parent and child at any age when the relationship does not feel emotionally secure. It can feel that the emotional bond is built upon pleasing the other person.
  6. Choosing a career that your parents want for you rather than a career you want
  7. Not trying for a promotion for fear of rejection. Or that it might put you in a difficult place with a coworker
  8. Avoiding looking for a bill you have misplaced because you fear you will be unable to pay it. So you go into “denial” and avoid thinking about it.
  9. Not putting your best efforts into a project at school or work to avoid being disappointed in the results.

Making decisions out of fear can often lead to depression. Happy people make conscious choices to move towards things that make them happy and fulfilled. When we give this up for any reason, we often leave behind those things that make us happy and our mood begins to fall. There is always a risk of not getting what we want. However, if we don’t even acknowledge what we want, we have little to no chance of achieving it. Again, happiness is a conscious effort people make to choose those things that lift their spirit or fulfill them.

Making Decisions out of Desire

What would that look like?

  1. Being aware that the decision would feel good to us in some way or another. We move towards something out of desire as opposed to fear or avoidance.
  2. We would be conscious of potential risks but choose to move forward and deal with whatever is in our future regarding that issue. That is called Inner Trust. It is a belief inside us that we have the ability to find our way, and to deal with whatever obstacles arise. It is the belief that we will somehow figure it out and be OK.
  3. We would be aware of our fear or avoidance of an issue. We would think through the issue to understand what parts of the issue are bothering us. Look at the options available and think of how we can make the decision more comfortable for us.
  4. Examining the worst case scenario regarding the issue. The worst case scenario statistically does not often happen. Think about what you could do if it did occur. You have then framed the fear around the issue. It is no longer unclear what it would look like if it did happen and you have a plan if it does occur.
  5. We would be more likely to seek guidance if our knowledge of our desire is beyond our understanding. Remember, we “don’t know what we don’t know”. This can open a whole new perspective of things. For example, many couples who are newly engaged do premarital counseling so they can learn the skills to help them more easily navigate through life and marriage.
  6. People sometimes seek counseling to help them navigate and improve family relationships rather than to avoid contact.

Action Items:

  1. Think of a time in the past when you did not follow your desire and made a decision out of fear or avoidance.
  2. Did you recognize you were doing that at the time?
  3. If so, what had you choose the fear or avoidance over your desired choice?
  4. Did you later regret that decision?
  5. What would you do differently if given the chance to do it over today?
  6. Can you carry this new knowledge into future situations?
  7. What do you have inside you that helps you get through difficult times? When have you used that strength to meet that challenging time in your life?

Next Blog: Coping With Difficult Times – Sink or Swim

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on YourTango.com and on MSN.com.

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