Sunday, April 1, 2012

Post-Divorce Decision-Making Overwhelm

Having talked with many post-divorcers, I believe divorce often finds us suffering with a decision-making deficit.  I’ve written about how the decision-making issues can arise because there are too many decisions.  And there is a myriad of decisions.  There are decisions about where to live, who to live with, what to do about the kids, the job, the friends, the ex, and so forth.  We know that having many decisions to make strains our ability to make good choices.  It can be overwhelming.

How does this happen?  Instead of just having too many decisions, perhaps it has something to do with the choices we make in our marriage.  In some marriages, there are few decisions to make, most being made by a highly controlling spouse.  In other marriages, decision-making power is often abdicated to a spouse.  I’m suggesting that when you don’t have to make a lot of choices, you start to forget how to make choices.  Then when you have lots to make, you’re out of  practice and it’s easily overwhelming.

My tips for those relearning decision-making:

1.  Try not to make too many decisions all at once.  Figure out what needs to be decided today, and keep a list of the other things to get to when you have more decision-making energy.

2.  HALT.  Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?  Don’t make any decisions under these conditions.  Eat, sleep, get with a friend and de-stress.  Then decide.

3.  Get the info.  Read, google, listen to podcasts, do whatever you do to get information.  Think it over.  Consider the possibilities and options.  Look at the consequences.  Then come up with your choice, or top choices.

4.  Consult.  Talk to friends, colleagues, anyone with information or insight into the issue and get their input.  You still make the decision, but even the presidents of the united states and general motors don’t make decisions on their own.  They use advisors.

5.  Sit with it.  If you don’t have to decide today and it’s a big decision, wait a couple of days.  Let the ideas come together.  Then revisit your decision and see if it still looks good.

6.  Practice acceptance.  Once you’ve gone through your steps, go with it and enjoy.  If you haven’t made the best choice, you’ll figure it out and do what you can for damage control.  You’ll learn something.  Next time, you’ll make a better choice.

It’s wonderful to hear people excited about buying their first car or home on their own.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  The big win: there’s a huge sense of empowerment that comes with making one’s own decisions.

I’m So Tired, The Beatles

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