Written by Clarissa Rice
Problem-solving is one of my favorite subjects to talk about and one of the most important areas of problem-solving, I think, is this idea of choices. I’m always surprised how often people say “I had no choice,” or “there weren’t any choices.” I believe we have some choice in about 95% of our lives. I know that seems like a shocking figure, and I chose 95% to illustrate that there really are a lot of choices. You may wonder then, what’s the other 5% that we do not have any choice about. Of course, we have no choice about being born, ultimate death, physical heredity, or when we’re unconscious, and other people’s choices.
It’s so important to give even a young child limited choices because this sets up learning to make choices and experience consequences early in life and even young children are making choices all the time.
When I was a middle school counselor, students would often dispute the fact that we had a lot of choices in our life and they would say, “Oh, I don’t have any choices. My parents tell me what to do and, and they have all the choices.”However, upon closer examination, they would admit that they often chose against their parents’ wishes, and then they often experienced negative consequences because of their choices.
The reason we want to believe that we have very limited choices is the fear of negative consequences. If we make a mistake in our choice, then we don’t want to take the responsibility for the choice.
We don’t want to admit we were wrong. We would rather blame others or deny our power to make more positive choices. We need to emphasize that we do have the power to make positive choices. Keep in mind whenever you choose a choice, you’re choosing a consequence. The word consequence means to follow with. Whenever there’s an action, there’s a reaction and that’s the consequence. It’s so important in problem-solving to consider choices carefully because very often there are both positive and negative consequences for the same choice. For example, if you got a nice big check for your birthday, then you would have a decision to make on what to do with it.
What do you do in life when all the choices are good? (That doesn’t often happen I’m afraid.) If you had several good desserts lined up, what would you do? We hope you would choose the best one for you at that moment, but then that leads us to the question, ‘What would you do in life when all the choices are bad?‘ Not a good one in the bunch? Well, we hope you would choose the best of the bad or the least bad for you at that moment.
Remember, other people choose different choices for themselves than you do and why is that? Because we all have different priorities, we have different values, or we have different prior experiences in life. Avoiding making a choice is not always a good idea because no choice is a choice, since you have chosen not to choose.
We hope you would seek guidance and information before making that choice. We do not have to go it alone. There are all manners of experts who can aid us in considering our choices, and even considering the consequences for any of those choices. But be aware if you let others make your choices for you, they probably won’t be the ones taking the consequences. Usually, there are several opportunities to make choices in life. So, if we don’t choose well on an occasion, usually there’s going to be another chance to choose another time. It’s not the end of the world, and we’ll have other opportunities to choose again. Hopefully, we have learned from our mistakes, and we’ll make better choices in the future. That’s why it’s so important to let people make their own choices and experience their own consequences. Those people who continue to choose bad choices for themselves, and suffer bad consequences, we consider self-destructive, because they are not learning. They may need some help to get on the right path.
Now let’s review. We have a lot of choices in our life. It is important to explore the consequences of each choice. As we are considering them before we act. Often there are both positive and negative consequences for the same choice. There is always a risk when making choices, but we can learn from our mistakes, and know-how to make better choices in the future. Seeking guidance and information when faced with serious choices is a very good idea, and can help us to make more positive choices and avoid serious mistakes. On the contrary, not seeking help, can sometimes lead to costly mistakes, legally, medically, etc. In general, learn to consider all possible choices, look at all possible consequences. Make sure you consider guidance and information if needed, and then take the risk and choose to take charge of your life because even if you make mistakes. It’s worth it. Happy problem-solving
– Clarissa Rice