Fear vs. Love: The Choice Is Yours

Woman takes break from moving and relaxes on sofa with warm drink “When you know better, you do better.” —Maya Angelou

Have you ever met someone who was great at making decisions? Their decisions may not always work out flawlessly, but the confidence they demonstrate when making decisions is impressive. Confident decision-makers have an ability to balance the opinions and advice of others with their inner voice. Even when their plan doesn’t go as hoped, there is a level of peace that comes from knowing, at the time, they made the best decision they knew to make. They learn from the experience and use the newfound knowledge toward their next decision.

So what is the trick to making sound decisions? How can we begin to incorporate this type of confidence when making choices? That depends. There may be research you have to do, people with whom you need to consult, financial situations to consider, time management—the list goes on. What I have found to be one of the most helpful questions to consider during the decision-making process is, “Am I making this decision based on fear or love?”

What’s love got to do with it? I’m referring to an all-encompassing love for yourself, for others, for the work you do—for your life. Don’t get me wrong; I understand we don’t always have an array of choices we love. Sometimes we have to choose between the lesser of two evils. But when we do, are we basing that decision on fear or love? And why does that even matter?

Think about it. How many times have you made a decision based on fear or reacted in fear and thought, “Gee, that went well! I was at my best when I reacted that way.” A certain level of fear is healthy and keeps us safe, but I’m not referring to physical safety. Our safety and the safety of others is always priority. I’m talking about choices that require us to dig deeper after we’ve done our due diligence, ensured our safety and the safety of others, and examined the logistics. Choices such as:

  • Do I take my dream job that requires me to move across the country and leave behind my comfort zone, or take the one I’ve been doing for years which I dread but keeps me comfortable?
  • Do I go through with this wedding because we’ve already put money down and have friends/family coming to the wedding, or do I tell my fiancé(e) that I can’t do this and risk disappointing everyone?
  • Do I start trying to conceive a baby because I yearn to experience being a parent, or confront the reality I’m not sure I ever want to have children?

When we slow down and decide from a place of self-love, we:

  1. Identify and meet our needs in a way that does not harm, manipulate, exploit, or take advantage of others (notice I didn’t say disappoint; sometimes, caring for ourselves first may disappoint others).
  2. Have more clarity about our intentions and expectations, so there is less disappointment if things don’t go the way we hope.
  3. Prioritize our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, which better equips us to care for and love others.

On the flip side, when fear and anxiety drive our decisions there is a greater chance of regretting them, feeling resentful, and jeopardizing our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Sometimes we may need help from others; a solid support system can help sort through the confusion. Talk therapy can offer a safe, supportive environment for discernment. Finding a good therapist will present you with an opportunity to process your choices and help you develop the skills to manage the emotions that come with them.

Slowing down the decision process will not fully eliminate anxiety or facilitate making difficult choices, but it may allow us to be at peace with our decisions—no matter the outcome.

Remember, take good care of yourself so you can offer the best of yourself to others.

© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Eliza Boquin, MA, LMFT, therapist in Houston, Texas

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Constance


    July 13th, 2016 at 7:49 AM

    Making a huge decision like a career move is very much my worst nightmare. Yes I want to change jobs but then I begin to second guess myself and wonder if this is ultimately going to be a move that I should make? I feel trapped at times by my inability to decide.

  • Melanie


    July 13th, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    I have a hard time relating because for better or worse I have always been more of a act now, worry later kind of gal. Drove my parents mad, but hey, never had a hard time making a decision. Now regrets, I’ve had a few…

  • peter


    July 14th, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    You are so right- the more fear driven the decision is then I think that there is a greater likelihood that you will regret the decision after a while. There is no rationality in the decision based on fear, not like there would be if it was done based in certainty.

  • Lily


    July 17th, 2016 at 8:05 AM

    When you have spent your entire life trying so hard to please other people that can be a very difficult pattern to break free of. But there will come a time when it will become so much more important to pursue your own happiness than it is to ensure the happiness of someone else. That should be their job, and not yours.

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