By Nicholas Smith, LPC

We all make multiple decisions everyday. Some are small and essentially inconsequential, such as which shoe we put on first; left or right? Yet others pack quite a life changing punch: jobs, marriages, children, friends, school, etc. There are all topics loaded with big choices. How do we go about making decisions? What resources do we utilize in order to make the best choice? These are some questions I would like to explore with you in this post.

In the realm of substance recovery, you might come across this saying, "Make the next right choice," and on the surface, that may seem like a pretty simple yet profound thing. Obviously for one who struggles with addiction in some way, the next right choice is always to stay sober. In fact, another "right" choice would be to stay away from the bar altogether and yet another is to not hang out with the people you always wind up getting high with. But other decisions might not be so apparent.

Most of us do not make decisions by the flip of a coin, leaving it up to chance. The choices we make are merely a reflection of who we are and what we believe in. It is our morals/standards/values that help us make decisions about our lives. For example, one who is politically swayed toward the Green Party will probably choose to drive an economical vehicle. This is because they hold themselves to a standard of being a good steward of our planet. Our world is becoming increasingly apathetic toward morals and standards making it more difficult for some to confidently make decisions about their future, goals, etc.

William Glasser is one of my favorite psychological theorists/authors. Through his writings, one can gather that it was essential for individuals to establish morals/standards/values and then live them out. When we live incongruently to our morals, we open doors for many psychological ailments and issues in our relationships. Think for a moment about this scenario: a friend of your wants to borrow $200. They promise to pay it back, even pinky swore on it! A couple weeks go by and you haven't heard from them. Finally, you get a hold of them to inquire about your money and they tell you they need more time. So, either your friend doesn't value keeping promises or they were just trying to rip you off. Either way, there is obviously going to be an issue within the relationship with that friend. You might even be thinking, "That friend is obviously suffering from a psychological disorder!"

I hesitate to bring up potentially more serious issues such as adultery, abortion, pornography, addictions and the like because I would not want anyone who is reading this to feel judged. Many people engage in these types of actions. There is a good chance, however, that some readers are starting to think of areas in their life right now that are incongruent with their morals/standards/values and these differences are causing a fair amount of emotional discomfort. We have what it takes to live a life of continuity, to be true to ourselves and live our values. It's not always easy, but the more we, "make the next right choice," the easier it becomes. The best resource for living this out is to simply surround ourselves with people who know our values and/or have similar values. Sometimes that means making new friends or participating in healthy social events such as church, volunteering, joining a club through your park district, etc. When we find ourselves in positions where it is difficult to live up to our own standards, we shouldn't feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help. Remember, even the most devout saints struggle to live a life of continuity (1 Timothy 1:15)

"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" (Deuteronomy 30:19)