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On Tough Choices: How to Make Peace with Your Decision

On Tough Choices: How to Make Peace with Your Decision

December 19, 2011

“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.” ~Unknown

After four years, four months and seven days of a long distance relationship with a mountain guide (between my NYC apartment and Maine, northern New Hampshire, Jackson Hole, WY, and various other parts of mountainous America), I was at the end of my rope, so to speak.

Being slightly older than him, and much less capable of handling the gaps of two to five weeks between seeing each other, I suddenly felt a strong urge to move on. I was craving the next part of my life, whether with him, or without.

For months leading up to September 21st, 2011, I was constantly wanting more from him and blaming him when he couldn’t or wouldn’t give it. To me, “more” meant traveling more to see me, spending more time and arguing less when we were together (despite the immense amount of pressure I put on every visit), and communicating with me more often when we were apart.

Constantly terrified I would lose him, I was hanging on to something I wasn’t sure I wanted, or perhaps wanted for the wrong reasons. In my over-analysis of it all, I was becoming lonely, desperate, and depressed.

I was barely surviving the relationship, let alone thriving, which is what I really wanted. I couldn’t force the result I wanted, and I felt powerless. I figured it wasn’t meant to be.

But when we were together, it felt like we were.

Then I felt the crazy creeping in. (Yes, more than it already had.) At some point in the fog, it became clear to me that I was completely attached to a single outcome—that he would change his life to fit mine.

For years I felt like I had fit into his life (we started dating just a few weeks before I got laid off of my dream job). But what needed to happen was to create one life together. And in order to do that, I needed to get clear on what I wanted for my life, and for our future, because until I did, he would never be good enough. I later learned that acceptance is the first step to thriving with someone.

I started to look at the situation with objective eyes and realized what didn’t work for me and what did.

What didn’t work was seeing each other a total of three months out of the year. What worked was that he had chosen an adventurous and inspiring career, and I accepted that. What didn’t work was to be far away from a major city, specifically New York or Los Angeles, while still developing my music career. What did work was to live in the country only an hour and a half away from New York.

With this new self-awareness and clarity, I was able to pack up my car to go visit him in New Hampshire, and be okay with the fact it could be the last visit. I was ready to let him know my terms, where I was willing to be flexible, and where I knew I had to take care of myself. I was open to the fact that it may not work out. And in that openness, there was room to choose.

So besides packing up my things for the four-day visit, I packed up his things, from shirts to boxers to a pair of shoes to his rollerblades. (Yes, folks, the boy can rollerblade. He grew up on a river in Maine and ice skated all his life. It’s quite sexy actually.)

When I arrived in New Hampshire, we dove into a deep conversation about our future. For the first time, I was not telling him what I thought he wanted to hear. I was clear, I was powerful, and all the while, I was not making him wrong or blaming him for anything.

My communication came across clearly. We were able to create what a “day in the life of us” really looked like. After creating that, I cried. I had been so focused on how it wasn’t ever going to work that I wasn’t able to imagine the wonderful ways it could.

The next day, we went rock climbing and he proposed at the top of the climb.

When we got back to the car, he said “Hey, why are my rollerblades in your car”?

My answer: “To make room for you.”

Whatever kind of situation you may be in when you are making a decision, you may find these ideas helpful in creating clarity and peace around your choice:

1. Acknowledge the other option.

Be open to the fact that you are choosing between two things, and one of them may not work for you. Acknowledging the other side will allow to you choose more powerfully. It is like the saying that good cannot exist without evil. Your ultimate choice cannot exist without its counter-choice.

2. Pack the rollerblades.

With a clear head, you can be completely unattached to the outcome. With this freedom, you create the space for a powerful decision to be made.

3. Know, with all your heart, what you want.

Examine what works and what doesn’t work for you. This isn’t, oh he chews popcorn too loudly, or my boss smells. Go deeper, and look at whether you see yourself thriving or merely surviving in a situation.

4. Visualize both options and get familiar with how you see yourself in either situation.

Just knowing, on a deep, subconscious level, that you will be okay will extract some of the drama of the situation and create peace.

5. Communicate with arrowhead precision.

Once you have your clear head, when you know what works for you and what doesn’t, include the necessary people on your clarity. Communicate exactly what you want, the possible outcomes, your preference, and let them join the conversation. Your coherence may be the ticket they needed to reach a logical decision themselves.

What helps you when you have to make a tough choice?

Photo by Jack Parrott

About Cheryl Engelhardt

Cheryl is a composer and singer/songwriter. Her website is and she writes a music industry blog called Living On Gigging. She just released "In The Key Of Success: The 5 Week Jump- Start Strategy," an E-Course for musicians and artists on how to jump-start their careers through finding their true purpose.

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The post On Tough Choices: How to Make Peace with Your Decision appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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