How do you sleep at night?

Saffy has had a full day. Apart from her usual twice-a-day meals and two walks, she had barked at the postman, enjoyed nipping around his ankles (but not actually biting), and been amused by him jumping around, posting the letters before running away. She had chased a ginger cat up the wall only to find his tortie feline friend hissing and taking a swipe at her nose. Saffy had also found a big smelly bone which she has hidden behind a sycamore tree to be enjoyed at a later date. Along the river walk, she had unusually decided to jump into the river to grab a stick only to find herself barely able to swim and being swept away by the torrential current. She was only saved by her guardian who waded in to pick her up downstream!

All in all, she has had a productive day filled with great and not-so-good decisions resulting in various consequences. Now, she is just laying by the fire, possibly amusing herself with the memory of her day, feeling contented and closing her eyes to rest.

Your life is made up of decisions you make and take, whether conscious or not, resulting in various outcomes depending on circumstances and chance. How do you decide? What influences your school of thought? Who do you allow for consideration before choosing your action? Some may include their family, friends, loved ones, or simply anyone (or no one) in all decisions. You may have to make seemingly difficult choices, close to impossible choices. It could be because both (or more) consequences are your desired outcomes and you have to choose your dream and abandon the other. Or perhaps all outcomes are detrimental to someone or something you value and it is the case of ‘Damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ sort of situation. How do you select in these circumstances?

There are times in your life when you are able to make the most amazing decisions. Those decisions have either changed your life or someone else’s life for the better and it just simply would not be possible without your decision and input into that particular situation in that universe. It could be big decisions like starting a family, a business, a relationship, choosing a course that defined your career, buying a house, or starting over in a foreign place or country. Or it could be simple acts like helping someone to cross the road, being polite and pleasant, being earnest in your dealings, or offering a smile to people you meet.

There are also times when despite your best effort, the outcome is less than desirable. Those decisions have caused a lot of pain to you or someone else whether intended or not. It could be ending a relationship (or continuing it despite everything) or a business, saying ‘no’ to a child, loved one, or a customer. Perhaps you had to do something that you felt had to be done but no one else understands and negative emotions were generated. These are times when your principles of life are tested. These are moments when you see what you stand for, believe in, and the power of your influence.

Great decisions are easy to live with. Decisions that result in pain either to yourself, others, or both are harder. It can make you doubt yourself and put you in discomfort as the consequences are played out in time. It can be equally hard whether you consciously made the decision like ending a relationship or found yourself accidentally in a situation like finding out you have lost your job (it was your decision to take the job in the first place). Either way, you may find it hard to make peace with yourself.

So, how do you make decisions that allow you to sleep well at night? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Seek Your Values And Principles and Live By Them. Know clearly what you stand for, what you believe in, and your priorities in life. Use your principles as a guiding light for your choices. Be very clear of your priorities to reduce the risk of conflict of your values or principles, for example, someone who places success over security would take more risk than someone who values security over success. Both are right and valid depending on their values and personal circumstances.
  2. Make Your Own Choices As Often As You Can. Be someone who chooses how they live, not ‘what happened to them’. Even delegating a choice to another is a choice. Own that decision. Take responsibility for your life.
  3. Be Considerate to all involved and affected by the choices you make. Be aware of those parties that may experience negative emotions from your choice. Explain, whenever possible, your reasons for doing so. They may see that you are simply living by your principles and values.
  4. After applying consideration in-depth, Be Courageous to make that choice. It is easy to waver and give that power of choice away to either someone else or allow time to take it away from your hands. Every time you make a decision, you build your decision-making power. Every time you do not make a decision, you deplete the same power.

Making decisions is just one way that affects how you see yourself. It affects your self-image and self-esteem. It is important to be able to make peace with yourself, especially when you have seemingly made the wrong decisions. Understand that if you have made decisions based on your values and principles, you are basically living the best you can. There are no right or wrong, only actions and consequences. A seemingly wrong decision that resulted in disastrous results may be right in another situation. Likewise, an apparently wise choice that ended with a beautiful outcome may be the worst thing someone can do under different circumstances.

In the end, you should be making decisions that allow you to sleep well at night. If your outcome is not as good as expected or simply catastrophic, learn how to make peace with yourself knowing that you were living by your principles, the best you could with the level of your understanding of life and the universe. Learn from it and make necessary changes. Pay the price of your actions and move on. Remember that you are capable of making amazing and beautiful decisions too. You have simply made a choice that resulted in a poor outcome. You are not your results. You are more.

Saffy is able to rest and sleep well. Are you able to do the same? If not, what do you have to let go to be able to?

‘Dear You, make peace with the mirror and watch the reflection change.’

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