How to Cope With a Dilemma
March 14, 2017
When we decide to seek treatment, we are often faced with a question or dilemma that may be interfering with our daily functioning. At Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, we often assist patients in developing new strategies to assist them in making difficult decisions. Whether it is relationship, career, living circumstances, family, sexuality, communication, or other important life decisions, is inevitable that we will all face difficult dilemmas at times. Often we find ourselves wondering how to handle these situations and maintain our wellbeing in the process. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when facing a dilemma:
- Remember That There is Likely No Quick Solution – Important decisions usually take considerable time to process and resolve, and this is okay. Allowing yourself to be patient with the issue can be a big help in an of itself.
- Weigh Out the Pros and Cons – Taking the time to sit down and spell out to pros and cons of each option on paper can help organize thoughts.
- You Are Always Making A Choice – Sometimes we forget that not making a choice is a choice. When we don’t act, we are choosing to remain where we are. We become empowered when we take full responsibility for the choices we are making. Beginning to take responsibility can be as simple as acknowledging daily the choices we are making regarding the dilemma we are facing.
- Take a Stand – Standing up for what we believe in enriches our sense of vitality, purpose, and dignity. Taking an inventory of our values and making the decision to act based on our values increases our chances of making decisions that we can take pride in. Often times, when we act based on our feelings, we are led astray from what is truly important to us.
- Give Yourself Time to Reflect – Setting aside a small amount of time (10-15 minutes) a few times per week to reflect on the situation with undivided attention invites clarity. Checking in to see if the pros and cons of each option have changed or to imagine what life would be like if each path was chosen are two useful strategies. Spending the time asking for guidance in whatever way feels right is another option.
- Name the Story – When facing a dilemma, the mind often likes to pull us into ruminating, worrying, and going over it again and again, only to find that we are no closer to a solution. Whenever your mind tries to hook you back into analyzing the dilemma, try naming the story and resolving to disengage from it i.e., “Here’s the break up story again. I don’t need to think about this now. I’ll think about this in my reflection time”.
- Practice Expansion – When faced with a challenging situation with multiple options and an uncertain outcome, it is only natural to feel anxiety. When feelings of anxiety arise, breathe into them, make room for them, and acknowledge the feeling while reminding yourself that anxiety is to be expected in such a circumstance. There is no need to add self-judgment to an already difficult experience.
- Cultivate Self Compassion – Recognizing that dilemmas are inherently difficult and that we all experience the suffering associated with them at multiple points in our lives, we can give ourselves a break by speaking kindly and gently to ourselves. Instead of pressuring ourselves to figure out what to do, we can ask ourselves “I see how much you are suffering with this, how can I help?” Knowing that we always deserve more love from ourselves, not less, makes it easier for us to commit to bringing love to whatever arises within us and in our environment, no matter how challenging or uncomfortable.