Making choices and dealing with ambiguity!

Topic for Today - Making choices and dealing with ambiguity!

One of the Hartlepool Mind peer volunteer suggested we right about the difficulty many of us are having about changes to Lockdown.  She was particularly thinking of parents struggling with whether to send their children back to school at this time.  Now fortunately Hartlepool have decided not to reopen schools but many other areas have, and even if it’s not the schools we are talking about then businesses are reopening and many people are having to decide what to do.  Some are having to make new living arrangements to protect the shielded, and others risk losing their jobs because of the choices they have no choice but to make.


So here are some thoughts that might be helpful, for easements under Lockdown as well as for other times in your life.


First things first, decisions and choices are very rarely simple and clear. 

I’m not talking about red jelly baby or green jelly baby type decisions (obviously you would pick the red), more the ones that feel difficult or complicated.  Ones where there are a lot of different things to think about. These decisions are the difficult ones, where there is more than answer and where you don’t get a chance to go back and get a “do over”.  The pressure can be intensified if there is a lot of pressure from the people around you, your community, your faith or society as a whole.


So what can we do to deal with the situation, make the best possible decision and stay calm?


Step One


Before you even start to work out what to do, give yourself a break, understand that we humans can struggle with ambiguity and that there are no perfect answers or solutions. All we can do in this life, is our best! And if we take the time and patience available we can ask no more of ourselves


Step Two

Have a think…

Take quiet time and space to really think about the situation and the choice you have to make to be sure you really understand what it is.  Do some research.  Google it, but take care to use reputable sites!  Sometimes we might feel pressure to make a decision but in truth, that pressure is coming from ourselves rather than anyone else.  Sometimes we might think a friend or partner needs a particular decision to be made, however it is a communication issue rather than a decision issue!

Try and do some checking to make sure you’ve got the right end of the stick and know what needs to be done.


Step Three (sometimes I do 2 & 3 together)

Write it down or draw it out

Writing or drawing our thoughts actually helps us to understand and organise our thinking so it helps us improve and expand our possible options.

Look not just at the possible decisions but also at the possible consequences; this requires your imagination to think about what might happen if you do A or if you do B.

We can use the possible consequences to help us decide but do remember, in complex situations there can be a lot to think about that can muddy the water of a clear decision. Sometimes the best we can do is make the least bad decision, and that’s okay too.


Step Four

Check it out…

Try and pick someone knowledgeable and that you trust to talk the issues through with - hopefully they will spot any problems or opportunities you have missed and help you form a decision or appropriate plan.  If you can’t think of anyone you know closely to work the issue through with, think a little wider, ask a colleague you trust or use one of the public or charitable services if they can help.  We are here if you need us and there are other organisations who are very used to helping people work out the best way forward in their situation:

Changing Futures North East (Relationships & Parenting), Hartlepool Carers (a service for carers in the town), Citizens Advice Bureau, Families First North East (Individuals and families of those with disabilities and learning difficulties)


Step Five

Crack on….

At some point, either because we have decided naturally or a time pressure has meant we have had to decide, we need to crack on and putt our decision into practice.

The thing to remember here is, if it turns out to be a mistake (and sometimes it takes time to know) we can then review the situation again and make another decision to try and bring about a better outcome.

My pet hate is the phrase “you’ve made your bed so now you have to lie in it”, take it from us… You do not!  If you have made a decision you are unhappy with you should simply start the process again and work out how to get out of it.


Step Six


If you are a worrier, and many of us are, and you tend to spend a long time going round and round the same thoughts and worries you can break out of that habit by trying this:

Ask yourself “ok, what if the worst happens?”

This simple question and its connected answer should give you some peace of mind and help you to accept that decisions can be difficult, and even potentially have negative consequences, but that can’t stop us getting on with our lives.


So in conclusion, if you asked me about sending my children back to school right now my answer would be no - but thankfully my children are in the age groups not expected back till September, so there is one decision I don’t have to make!


Ok, well that’s us for today - See you soon…


Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to cover in future blog posts, but most of all Stay Safe, Well, Creative, Connected and KIND!

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