On Wanting What is Right, to Feel Right
There are many ways to make a decision; write a pros and cons list, ask a friend, or get professional advice. However, more often than not, we listen to our two primary guides- our head, and our 'gut'.
Unfortunately, these two are famously out of alignment when it comes to difficult decisions. As Pascal famously said, 'the heart has reasons that reason knows not of.' More plainly, feelings are not based on reason.
When our heart and our head disagree, we are left confused. Which side do we agree with? Whom do we follow into the future? Generally? We follow neither, remaining stuck in indecision.
The difficult answer is in such instances, neither are entirely correct. Some decisions will simply 'feel bad'.
There is something inherently wrong with this. We think that the 'right' decision will always feel good. If something is right, it will be easy; the clouds will part and a sense of peace or joy will fall over us. Except, it doesn't.
We can manage the inevitable disconnect of head and heart by considering this question: what is the feeling really about? More often than not, it has little to do with the quality of the decision, but rather the consequences flowing from that decision.
We may come to the logical conclusion that we must end a relationship. Even in abusive relationships, this incites a feeling of pain and loss. This reflects the natural mourning of losing a relationship, or giving up on a person we have loved. We may be afraid of the other person's reaction, or of the unknown. All of this is normal. None of it speaks to the decision itself.
Moreover, we can counteract this problem by realizing that big decisions will incite negative emotions. Emotions are just information. By falsely attributing them to the decision itself, we fail to do the work the emotions point to. Instead, we should expect the need to grieve, or feel fear, or wish things had been different - in processing these emotions we will arrive at a place of better clarity.
Expect negative emotions in making a big decision. Consider ahead of time what emotions you may experience in trying to make this change (eg. sorrow, fear, loss, anger).
When emotions arise, ask what information they are giving you. Do not assume they relate to the most obvious issue.