inadequate plans for our lives; we plan our spring breaks in Florida in
more detail than we plan our careers.
Lastly, Wheeler and Janis say there are two common reactions
when things go wrong: immediately assuming the worst and
impulsively adopting the opposite approach. Examples: Two people
decide to break up after their first disagreement. A couple has saved
money all their lives until one middle-aged child "borrows" several
thousand dollars for a boyfriend who disappears. They decide to spend
all their money on a big home and travel. Both examples could be
serious errors. Avoid making major decisions when you are very
emotional. Let things settle. Figure out why things went wrong. With
new knowledge and understanding, make decisions and plans again.
If we can recognize the smoke screens and barriers caused by our
own emotions, we will be in a better position to make good decisions.
Like other problems associated with dependency, it is helpful to have
considerable experience before making major decisions (like who to
marry), good skills so that one is assured of eventual success (like
finding another lover) even if this effort fails, specific ideas and plans
to make it work (not just "live happily ever after"), and generally a
positive attitude towards ourselves (I'm a good, considerate, well
It is so sad to hear a 45-year-old person say, "I've never liked my
work, but it's too late to change." Or a 25-year-old mother may say, "I
married John because I wanted to get out of the house" or "because I
got pregnant" or "because he was the basketball star but I knew he
resented my being smarter." Or a 30-year-old father may say, "I
married Jill because she was a knock out before she gained 30 pounds
having three kids, now we have nothing in common except the
children." It won't do much good to advise a person in love to "wait,"
because the emotions involved are overwhelming. But, learning about
your self through personal growth and mastering the art of rational
decision-making before "falling in love" could prevent a lot of human
misery. It might take weeks or months of careful work to make a good
decision about your career or partner but it is worth it (see Freud's
comment below). Consult with experts and friends. See method # 11
in chapter 13 for detailed decision-making procedures. See chapter 10
for partner selection and chapter 14 for building self-esteem. How
could one hope to become self-reliant and self-actualizing without
becoming a good decision-maker? Decision-making is not merely a
knack or a gift, it is a learnable skill and hard work. It may require
intuition too, but logic, information, judgment, and mature emotional
reactions are all involved.
When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to
consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a
profession, the decision should come from the unconscious. The important decisions of
our personal life should be governed by the deep inner needs of our nature.