Reason 1: We Lack Practice

“Why don’t we know what we want? Sometimes its simple. We just lack the practice, we have weak decision making muscles. If you’re an averagely nice person who never rubs anyone the wrong way and generally gets along with colleagues and friends, then a lot of the time you’ve probably learned to go with the flow. Sometime in your past you’ve decided that it’s easier not make a fuss about small things and you probably look askance at people who do.”

“Because of this you are simply not used to deciding what you want, because you very rarely make that kind of decision. Your boss decides when you arrive at work and when you leave, how long your lunch should be and how much holiday you can have (and when). Your spouse organises your social life (and your socks). You fit in, watching the TV that everyone else talks about, doing what others do. Even the way you dress or the kind of car you drive helps you to fit in and feel safe, not too different. Believe me, you lack practice in deciding what you want.”

“It’s no wonder, is it, that when it comes to the bigger issues in life ‘what do I really want?’ that we have no experience to fall back on. We’ve not practiced the skill enough to use it when we really need it.”
“Hmm.” Said Mike. “I’m not completely buying this although, thinking about it, I do feel like I’m on autopilot sometimes. But isn’t this just politeness? You can’t go around making a fuss about what you want the whole time. Can you?”

The solution?

John looked at him “Well, let’s see. What’s the solution to lack of practice?”

“Practice?” ventured Mike.

“Yep. You have to practice. You have to go right back to the beginning, to the very smallest parts of your life and practice deciding what you want. We’ll talk more about how to practice this when we look at the Seven Ways.”

All Those Broken Agreements

“This lack of practice in making your own decisions gets compounded because you have been let down so many times. Imagine a friend of yours who keeps promising to meet you for lunch but never shows and worse, keeps coming up with the most lame excuses that you can hardly believe. ‘My back was aching today’, ‘The cat was sick so I couldn’t come’, ‘I got distracted by this TV programme and before I knew it the time had gone’. How would you feel about this person? Annoyed? Let down? That they weren’t really a friend?”

“Guess who you have been letting down? That’s right. Imagine a life littered with broken promises, full of intentions that never went anywhere and ideas that never got further than fantasy. Imagine that lot hanging round your neck. No wonder you feel confused. You’re feeling let down and probably slightly angry. And the solution is just the same as it would be if you make an agreement with someone else and it becomes obvious you are not going to meet it. You have to:”

  • Call the person up and remake the agreement
  • Agree with the person that ‘not now’ is OK
  • Agree to end the agreement because you both know it isn’t going to happen

“What you have to do is rebuild trust with yourself exactly as you would have to do if you had been treating a friend this way. You’ve either got to start keeping your agreements or remake them. Probably the easiest place to start, with your track record, is with the very smallest things in your life.”

Mike nodded “I can see that, I’m not sure I agree with you about lack of practice but I can definitely see that I’ve broken agreements with myself loads of times. Never really thought of looking at it that way though. What’s the second reason?”

John stood up and walked over to the window. He gestured outside. “The second reason has to do with where we are looking most of the time.”

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References and further help