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How to Survive Making Tough Decisions


From time to time we're all faced with the need to make tough decisions Click To Tweet. We may be determined to commit to a partner who we know friends and family will never accept or we may want to end a relationship which others feel we should stay with. We may be torn between being true to our conscience and the contradicting need to demonstrate loyalty to our family.

Or we’re hiding our sexuality for fear of rejection, have realised that we’ve chosen the wrong training or career out of the desire to satisfy our family’s wishes. Making tough decisions when we know we can’t continue and now need to right those wrongs can be a daunting prospect.

It can be tough when other people have invested heavily in our lives. Parents, friends, teachers, mentors may have made sacrifices to support us in following ‘the plan’, but what happens if we realise that plan’s not for us? Are we struggling with the apprenticeship, training course, university, marriage that others felt was so perfect for us?

They may have been well-intentioned, keen to see us settled, starting a family, following their dream path but what if all their financial hardship, hours spent coaching, nurturing and cajoling were spent in vain? Or we may have been offered an exciting opportunity but it requires us to make the tough decision to move miles away.

It’s time for us to seriously consider walking away and moving on to something more suitable for us.

But how to survive making tough decisions?

– Few of us relish confrontation. Most of us want a happy life, where we’re doing the ‘right’ thing, we’re liked, loved and accepted. Getting along well enough with each other matters. Risking censure, disapproval or anger can put a brake on saying that something needs to change. Guilt often features too, ‘after all I’ve done for you’ can rank high on the list of recriminations we try to avoid.

– Fear of upsetting or offending those who say they want the best for us can make a tough decision tougher. Fear of their reaction, the consequences, being rejected can sometimes significantly delay us in making changes, so further upsetting life’s balance. And what happens if, after walking away, we come to regret it! Well, we’ll survive if we realise our new choices aren’t working out; we may be older, wiser, a little battered and bruised, but at least we’ll know that we tried, had a go and are now ready to move on from the experience.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

– Explaining how unhappy we are is often a start. Those who care for us may have already noticed the warning signs we’re giving and may not be totally surprised or disappointed at our decision. Remember though that ultimately no experience is ever wasted. Lessons are often learned on many different levels. Some benefit comes from recognising the support and investment that’s been made into our personal relationships.

– Ignoring what our conscience is saying can cause sleepless nights and make it hard to look at ourselves in the mirror. The tug-of-war between conscience and family can bring pain and heartbreak to all sides. Maintaining communications and mutual respect is crucial but can often be very difficult, at least at first.

– Set aside time when you’re ready to talk it through. Prepare what you want to say, but don’t be too contrite about your decision. You may be sorry for the hurt and upset that’s been caused but now is the time to reclaim your life. Be firm about that.

– Offer an alternative plan. It demonstrates that you’re serious, have thought about your future direction and are not being whimsical or impetuous.

– We have to own our choices and decisions. Deciding to do nothing is also a decision. It’s our life and no one can live it for us. Others will have their own reasons for holding their viewpoint on our life. We have to accept that personal responsibility is a major part of being an adult and that means accepting the consequences of our actions. Choosing to walk away from something we feel isn’t right has consequences which may include time apart to allow things to cool, settle and heal a little.

– But those who like, love and care for us should understand our dilemma and stay with us because our happiness is important to them. Mutual sensitivity and respect are key elements in surviving tough decisions.

Tough decisions often indicate that it’s time to move on. Not everyone or everything stays in our lives forever. Some people are with us for a season, others for a reason, maybe to bring a new stage into our lives, or to push us into making changes. It may be hard to accept but sometimes tough decisions mean letting go and not staying with the status quo.

Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit

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