I CAN never make a decision. Then when I do, I worry it’s the wrong one.
The current dilemma is about whether to go on holidays. I managed to decide to go with a group of pals then when we started to discuss where to go – and whether to a hotel or self-catering – everyone had lots of ideas. By the time we finished my head was spinning and now I am worried about all the things that might go wrong.
This sounds less like the inability to make a decision and more like finding it difficult to deal with the emotional response to the choice. Making choices about what to do with our time, money or lives involves risk and that can trigger anxiety. However, anxiety can go in different directions: one way is fear; another is excitement.
The difficulty for you is that fear always wins out while excitement doesn’t get a look in.
I wonder what it is you fear about making a choice – that things might go wrong? That is a possibility, as is the possibility that things will go well. Start by thinking about all the positive things you would like to happen on the holiday. Make a list. Then list the top five things that could go wrong, and talk through with someone who is also going on the trip how you would deal with them. Having some sort of contingency plan can help lessen the anxiety. It’s a battle between fear and excitement here, and so far fear has always won out. It doesn’t have to be like that, give excitement a chance.
THE REAL WORLD
I am 37 and have been with my boyfriend for nearly a year but I’m not sure he is The One. I had always imagined myself with someone with a good career, someone with ambition and prospects, who would provide a good life for us. He isn’t any of those things; he has a good enough job which he enjoys, friends, a reasonable place to live and me. I like being with him but the life he is offering isn’t the one that I had dreamed of. Should I end it now?
When we are younger we have all sorts of dreams. That is the way we start to map out the unknown future ahead of us; they help us to not feel so anxious. Usually, though, as we develop we start to let go of those dreams and temper them with a bit of reality.
I wonder what it is that the ‘dream partner’ would be giving you that you feel your real partner isn’t? Real relationships don’t come with guarantees. When we enter into them we are making a commitment to being with someone whatever the future might bring. You can carry on searching for your dream partner or you could take a risk and take on the responsibility for making this relationship into the one you want. Talk to your partner, see if there is common ground and a way of you both achieving your dreams before you walk away.
• Anne Chilton is head of professional practice for counselling with Relationships Scotland
If you are affected by any of the issues in Lifelines and require further advice, contact
Relationships Scotland (www.relationships-scotland.org.uk)
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