We make choices all the time, most are simple and we don’t give them a lot of thought. Some are bigger and we can agonize over them for days, weeks, months and more. How we handle choices matters a lot, we learn that at a young age. We’re taught to make the right choice, to consider choices carefully and that we must take responsibility for the choices we make. How many times have you heard “you made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it”?
When you’re a kid, the choices may not be easy to make but they are usually simple in the sense that the outcome of that choice does not threaten lives or livelihoods. As an adult, I look back at childhood choices with a lot of envy. Even now, I have multitudes of simple choices presented to me every day. However, as an adult, the number of complex choices I have to make feels overwhelming at times.
If the bed I make is about which chocolate to pick from the box or whether to wear my black shoes versus my white ones, I’m willing to lie in it and not complain too much. Complex choices, however, are not singletons, they tend contain multiple components, all with different weighting in regard to risk and reward. Complex choices involve emotional math, return on investment calculations and attempts to foretell the future. Choices involving relationships are complex choices. What may look simple from the outside can be hellishly difficult from the inside. Relationships with multiple partners increases the complexity in some kind of advanced mathematical way I don’t even know how to visualize. Compounding all that, when you’re an adult, you may also be a parent. That means any choices you make have to also take the current and future well being of your offspring into account.
What is my point in all this? I believe the ‘make your bed and lie in it’ rule falls apart with complex choices. If I make a choice, based on my personal evaluation of the pluses and minuses associated with each option, I may not like every thing about the choice I make. Hopefully, if I’ve been able to make the choice freely, there are more positive outcomes than negative, but with complex situations, it’s not all peaches and cream. So with the bundle of positives comes a (hopefully) smaller bundle of negatives. Frankly, I don’t want to lie down with the negatives. I may be happy about the positives and still complain bitterly about the negatives.
So, though I may make choices that I feel strongly about and which are, over all, have very good and positive outcomes, I’m still gonna want to kick the negative stuff off the bed. And I’m not going to feel bad about it. And neither should you.
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