Sometimes I Over-Comfort Myself

One of my most destructive character traits is that I’m very convincing when it comes to soothing myself or others down, especially in the face of a problem or a dilemma. While this may be positive, in situations where there is no need to freak out or make a big deal out of something, I’ve come to notice that there is a pattern in my own life consisting of many points where and when I needed to make a decision, or confront an issue, or make a stand, but instead decided not to, because “it wasn’t such a big deal,” and I could adapt easily, and feel alright, as opposed to freaking out and making a big deal out of it - which what was needed to make a decision.

An example of this could be at my work place, where a lot of people think I’m a sheep, because I let so many things slide. But I personally know I’m no sheep, and I’ve actually had a long history of dealing with serious issues, and I’m aware I’m fully capable of making it an excruciatingly painful experience to deal with my anger or due reactions. The thing is: I don’t feel like I need to do that, even if people got the wrong idea, and even if they still consider me to be a sheep. But I digress. This paragraph can be considered a counter-argument to the first, but I just thought it’s necessary to mention this in order to narrow down exactly what I mean.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I could put my hand in fire and manage to keep it there because of how I learned to deal with the pain of being on fire. While this may be an admirable trait that speaks volumes about self-control and restraint, a burned hand is what I end up with sometimes.

Is all.

Maybe there is a way to confront a serious issue without “freaking out”.

I think that you’re overcomforting yourself about your ability to deal with serious issues.

This doesn’t strike me so much as over-comforting as much as complacency around indecision, especially if, in retrospect, you feel that making a big deal out of it would have been the better way to deal with it. As someone who has had issues dealing with this too, I can say that, to some extent, it’s better than being impulsive, because it means that when I DO make a decision, it’s definitely a big deal and I’ve weighed it through and it’s likely to be the best option. The downside is that it can also mean passing up opportunities that might have been better, sticking in bad situations for too long, or simply having those decisions made for me, whether it’s by another person or by the situation itself.

Just because something isn’t a big deal doesn’t mean it’s not something that should be addressed. But it really depends on WHY you’re not addressing them. Is it fear of lost opportunity? Is it concern about “owning” that decision and possible regret or blame associated with it? Is it a lack of confidence in your ability to make the right decision? Maybe you’re overly concerned with weighing EVERYTHING and over-analyzing it to the point that the decision never gets made. Chances are, it’s some combination of those and maybe something else not crossing my mind now.

But ultimately, the thing to realize is that there’s an entire spectrum of responses between being impulsive and never making any decisions. One should strive to be somewhere closer to the middle and adjust based on the decision. For example, if it needs to be quick and it has no risk, like what flavor ice cream for desert, by all means be impulsive. If it’s important and you have some time to think about it, be much more deliberate. Even still, it shouldn’t take weeks to make a decision, even big ones like a career change or whatever. If it does, it probably means you’re either dodging the decision or your ability to discover alternatives, create criteria, score and weight the alternatives, then choose one, and then committing to that decision and acting on it, is lacking somewhere in there.

Hell, speaking from my own experience, when it takes me a long time to make a decision, I’ve usually already made it, I’ve just lacked the final step of actually committing to that decision. For others, they have no problem committing to a decision, but they suck at coming up with alternatives (eg I need a new job, what if I get the same type of job at a competitor) or at figuring out criteria or weighting them (eg I have a good job but I REALLY want to be a musician, I want that so bad so I’m doing that).

But, again, from my own experience, I look back down at a lot of decisions I put off because it wasn’t that bad. My last job, for instance, I justified by that, I was able to tolerate it and I liked the people I worked with, but I was just used to how horrible the management was. Eventually things got worse and worse and, well, I no longer work there. In my new job, it has some downsides the other place didn’t, but looking back, the management here is SO SO much better, I’m looking back and wondering how I was able to justify that type of abuse I was putting up with. I KNEW I wanted to get out of there, all the criteria, all the weights, everything pointed to that being the right decision, but I didn’t commit to it. As you put it, I SHOULD have freaked out, because it WAS a big deal. But really, I should have been level-headed, committed to the decision, and gotten out of there much earlier and I’d have been better off.

Anyway, I hope that’s given you some food for thought. Good luck.

Burned hands heal slow, Mr Blackstock.