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“Decisions! Decisions!”

Most of us, at one time or another, struggle with decision making. Our minds can be overrun with questions: Will I make the wrong decision? Will I lose out on something? Will other people disapprove? With all of this, we are often stopped in our tracks by “analysis paralysis”

It is true a variety of factors may need to be considered, including fit, timeliness, relevance, and feasibility of a decision. To do the necessary preparation can be daunting and time consuming, complicated by society messages that imply everything should be easy and quick. Volumes have been written to address how to best navigate all these factors. However, there is an aspect of decision making that is not well addressed – and that is, “the problem of pain”.

Not all decisions are between right and wrong, black and white, good and bad, easy and hard. In fact, the majority of complex decisions are between shades of these – even shades of good and good, bad and bad.  Though we strive to avoid it, there are times in life that no matter what we choose, there will be pain.  Take drawing a boundary with a loved one, for example.  Suppose you want to ask your mother not to come over without calling. If the boundary is drawn, there is the pain of her response. She could feel offended and may attempt a guilt ploy – “Oh. Okay. Sure. You’re not home often, so calling would make it hard for planning, but it’s okay I understand. You need your space.  You don’t need your mom in the way”. However, if the boundary is not drawn, it results in the pain of feeling devalued, uncared for, and resentful.

Whatever you chose, there will be pain.

At The Center • A Place of HOPE, we understand this dilemma.  We understand the pain involved in difficult life choices, such as whether or not to change jobs, draw a boundary, leave an abusive situation, let go the past, or go on a quest to find yourself in a world that wants to pigeon-hole you.  Choosing whether to leave your home to receive professional depression or anxiety treatment can be a difficult, dilemma-filled decision. We walk beside you to help you choose the better pain.

Some of the ways we facilitate growth and healing is to recommend a wise-minded approach, which includes the following tips:

  1. Choose the better pain. Take time to consider where you want to go, not just where you are.  Choose the better pain; the pain that will take you closer to your overall goals.  
  2. Choose pain rather than suffering. Pain in this life is inevitable.  However, this can be made worse by ruminating, acting out, sabotaging, and punishing ourselves.  Anything we do to add to or magnify our pain is suffering – and it is not necessary.
  3. Find support. Many times, we try to be brave and make hard choices on our own. We think of ourselves as a burden.  Some of us truly do not have a healthy support system in place. Consider branching “out-of-the-box” – Support groups, TED talks, Podcasts, Favorite Preachers, and audio books are just a few of the places we can turn to find people who “get it” and will encourage us.
  4. Engage in self-care. Change and stress are taxing on the body, mind, and spirit.  Be sure to make time to rejuvenate – set dates with yourself and keep them!  

At The Center, you will be surrounded by caring staff and community who will support and help you as you learn new ways to deal with life’s tough choices.  Building an abundant and joyful life takes work; persistence, patience, effort, and tenacity. It hurts sometimes. Strange as it sounds, this is as it should be.   For it is when we do the work it takes to choose the better pain, we see how strong we really are.

Written by Hannah Smith, MA LMHC CGP, Group Therapy Program Coordinator, she is a Neuroscience-informed, Licensed Therapist and International Board Certified Group Psychotherapist at The Center • A Place of HOPE. The Center, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and more.