Tips For Making Tough Decisions


5 Do’s and Don’ts To Get Through A Dilemma


Life is full of dilemmas. We’ve all been faced with tricky “should I stay or should I go” decisions, whether it be a big move, a job, or a long-term relationship. Sometimes the decision might be easy or obvious, but there are also times when our heads and our hearts don’t agree, and we’re left stuck on the fence unable to make up our minds.

Feeling stuck?

Facing a tough decision?

The problem with sitting on the fence is that by not making a choice you’re still choosing a side by default. Let’s say you’re in a job you hate, but you’re on a good salary and reluctant to leave because there’s no guarantee you’ll find another position elsewhere. So while you think things through you stay, but because you’re undecided, your behaviour at work starts to change. You arrive late, make excuses when you miss deadlines, and you stop going to work drinks with your colleagues.

The problem with delaying your decision is that while you think you’re undecided, your lack of action means you’ve decided to stay by default, you just haven’t committed to your decision yet. The longer you stay on the fence, the more unhelpful your actions become, and the worse you feel about your situation.

When you choose to sit on the fence, you unintentionally make a decision by default. Avoid feeling stuck. Make active, not passive decisions. Here’s some helpful do’s and don’ts to get you started.


Consider leaving the situation if it’s a viable option. Sometimes leaving isn’t an option, but if it is, it’s worth considering. Ask yourself whether your overall quality of life would be better if you leave. You won’t ever know for certain whether you’ll be better off leaving, but you can make a reasonable prediction based on what’s transpired so far.


Change what can be changed. If you choose to stay in a difficult situation, you can first try and see if there’s anything you can change to make it better. Take control by taking action to make things as good as they can be. This might involve changing your behaviour, for example changing to be more assertive at work, or organising more quality time with your partner.


Try and change what can’t be changed. We can make situations worse by continuing to fight against things that aren’t changeable. The key word here is acceptance. Accept the things you don’t have control over and make it your goal to learn to tolerate the discomfort a lack of control triggers.


Give up and do things that make it worse. Worry, rumination, withdrawal, passiveness, anger, over analysing, and drugs and alcohol are all actions that won’t solve your problems, not only that, they could make things worse for you in the long run.


Live by your values. Knowing your values and actively living by them go hand in hand with acceptance. Ask yourself “what do I want to stand for in the face of this?”, “what sort of employee/partner/friend do I want to be?” and “Deep down, what really matters to me?” Being able to let our actions be guided by our values can improve our quality of life no matter what the difficulty. Living by your values can include things like practising kindness in your relationship, or practising self-care at work by taking regular breaks.

Pascale is a clinical psychologist who is passionate about empowering people to create change. She is warm and empathic and is dedicated to providing evidence based psychological care. Pascale has extensive experience working with adults and adolescents with a variety of psychological disorders including depression, panic attacks, social anxiety, generalised anxiety, health anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.


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