I WAS placed in a very difficult situation recently when the child of an acquaintance got in touch with me to bail his sister out at 5am.
Apparently, the sister was hanging out with a rowdy bunch who were involved in a fight the night before. He begged me not to tell his parents.
Because I did not want him to be more stressed out (he was sitting for his finals that morning) and I was having enough on my plate, I agreed, but I told him that they would have to tell their parents at some point, as there was only so much I could do.
The mother eventually found out and was not just mad at her children, but at me too.
At first, I was hurt with her harsh messages, but it sunk in as I tried to put myself in her shoes.
If my children got into trouble and they called my friend instead of me to bail them out, how would I feel?
Hurt. Angry. Disappointed. Worried?
I remember many times when I got into trouble and the last people I wanted to tell were my parents. I was scared and worried about their reaction and the last thing I needed was a beating, a lecture and to be grounded.
Most times, I owned up and had to face the wrath of my father; but there were one or two times that I didn’t say anything and I had my friends to help me out. We have kept those mischievous episodes under wraps till today.
Now that I am a parent, I would be so disappointed if my children did not come to me first if they are struggling with something or are in a fix.
So yes, I understand why my friend was angry with me, but I do not have regrets because I made a decision based on my gut feeling.
This got me thinking about how we make choices in life.
Every day, we make decisions – what to eat, what to wear and what to do with our time.
Some decisions are no-brainers so even if it’s not the best decision, the potential consequences are not life-threatening per se.
And then you have those bigger decisions that are a tad more scary, because the possible consequences of the decision is so complicated, your brain gets confused.
Over-thinking and compulsively analysing a decision doesn’t help much either, plus, trying to predict the future is an impossible task.
At the end of the day, any decision involves a certain leap of faith. So here are some applicable, practical tips from Dr. Lissa Rankin via MindBodyGreen when making those decisions:
1. Be aware that you do have a choice. Don’t feel helpless or victimised. Recognise that you have a choice and that you can always change your choice.
2. Question your choice. When I made that decision to keep mum and allow the children to tell their parents instead, I did it because I did not need the added stress of having to handle her too. I had enough on my plate and would rather focus on my own set of problems first.
3. Be aware when fear is taking the lead. Apparently, we all have a “small self” or what some call the “ego” or “protective personality”. The small self always wants to be in control and is usually terrified of uncertainty. For instance, working non-stop tires you but you are afraid someone else will get that job and you can’t afford to lose it. So even though your health is at stake, you would rather make decisions based on that fear – which could be unhealthy.
4. Surrender your decision. Sometimes, I leave it in God’s hands after seeking divine intervention through prayers. I had to make a choice – whether to pursue a degree I was really keen on, or disappointing my father who was pushing me to a different path. Though the first few years were rocky, especially my relationship with my father, I continued to pray for his blessing and eventually, he was happy for me.
5. Ask for help. When I received the call at 5am to help bail my friend’s daughter out and to not let the parents know, I consulted another mutual friend who agreed that we shouldn’t tell his mother for reasons I can’t explain here. Sometimes we need human help too, be it a counsel or someone who can skilfully guide you to make that decision.
6. Be present. Look for signs and listen to your instincts. I agree with the writer that spiritual signs are everywhere but we are often not paying attention. For instance, I was offered a job that was challenging from the start. The pay was lucrative, but there was always something that held me back.
In the end, I had to make a decision to take the job or not. Probably, it was pure coincidence, but I kept “hearing signs” over the radio and subliminal messages that appeared on my social media wall urging me to decline the job. True enough, the gig was a hoax and I’m glad I paid attention to the signs and followed my gut instinct.
My decision not to be the one to break the news to my friend about her child’s troubles was not just a test of our friendship, but also a reminder that I need to make sure my own children know that they can come to me first for any problem in life.
This was my decision, so InshaAllah, my friend and I will be able to iron out our issues soon.
I hope I will be rational and guide my children if the need arises.
What have you done to make a big decision in the past? How have you minimised the possibility of regret? Email the writer at daphneiking6(at)gmail(dot)(com) as she would love to hear from you.