The solution to any existential problem often hinges upon how committed we are, which can be measured in how realistically we may consider other options. For some, the world never ceases to be an endless tapestry of options. For others, once they’ve made up their mind, they feel honor bound to uphold and defend it, period. It’s that solid act of decision that actually reinforces our resolve. The more concrete the decision, (actively eliminating all other options), the longer the staying power, and the more willing we become to look for ways to do what has to be done to make our original decision work out in the long run.
Let’s take marriage, for example. If you’re married and you’ve decided for whatever reason that divorce just isn’t an option for you, then are likely to put a lot of effort into other solutions when you are having problems. You will do whatever it takes to make your marriage work, because quite simply, you don’t really have any other choice (for the sake of the length of this blog entry, I am not addressing situations where someone may have to abandon their own core beliefs due to safety concerns for themselves, or others).
What I’m talking about here is a decision versus an intention. A decision is a judgement, conclusion, or resolution, that is reached after a period of deliberate consideration. Whereas, an intention is more like a plan that is forming. Decisions, by their very nature, eliminate other options. And while there they are conclusions of the mind, they are binding to the person who makes them. And they play a pivotal role in our inner happiness. How do you know if you’ve made a solid decision? Look at whether or not you are able to consider other options.
Are you married? Ask yourself whether or not you could even consider a divorce. That will give you an idea as to how committed your decision was (again, barring safety concerns, etc.)
Wondering if your decision to stop drinking is going to work this time? Look at how often the option to drink realistically presents itself. People who continue to attempt recovery, yet constantly relapse, have to live in this reoccurring nightmare as they search for a reason to hang their repeated stumblings upon. It was no accident that the authors of the 12 steps thought it best to shoehorn in the 3rd step, and its binding decision, prior to the real working part of their program.
Even thoughts of suicide could apply here. Many people have the thoughts, but far fewer act on them. Those who are still with us were willing to still consider other options during a critical time.
Suffice it to say that what I am getting at applies to all of us, especially in our bigger moments of weakness. We all have moments of doubt, but those who have made a binding decision are granted a little voice that tells them, “Sure, taking some other path may ease my suffering, but I can’t do it, it’s just not an option. There’s got to be something else I can do, someone who can help, some way to get through this.”
The fear of acting on something always comes before we act, it is a crucial moment that we pay little attention to. We don’t usually experience fear when we act, it almost always exists within the anticipation of action… beforehand. If we were to recognize the moment that exists prior to our actions as the crucial window that it actually is, we can learn to harness its power, because it is there that real decisions get made. And those decisions have the power to reduce the suffering we might have exposed ourselves to, had we not made sure we considered everything before we actually acted.