Where do you want to go tonight?
Do you want to go for a walk or sit on the beach?
What do you want to eat for dinner today?
Such questions sound like the easiest in the world. But for me they are a challenge. Lately, I realized it's pretty difficult for me to make the small decisions like where to eat or what to wear, even what type of music to listen to...
The strange thing is that I don't have this problem when it comes to the really big decisions that most people find scary. I didn't hesitate when we were thinking about leaving the big city that had everything and everyone we knew. I simply made the decision to go to a new place and a start a different life. Decisions like taking or leaving a job opportunity, moving to a new home, even getting married weren't so hard for me. Making a decision to buy an apartment is actually easier to me than making a decision to buy a blouse!
It's the day to day stuff that challenge me. When my husband asks me what I want to do, eat, watch... etc, I find myself struggling with the answer. I catch myself searching so deeply inside my head to find a reply to any of the 'easy' questions. This happened so many times recently and it's getting very annoying that I started to wonder what's wrong; how can someone who readily makes and gives advice about life changing decisions struggle so much with minor daily choices?
I can't say that I have a clear answer yet, but while I'm looking for it, I'm finding some factors that seem like they could be causing this struggle for me. I also believe I'm not the only one with this choice making problem since most of those factors are related to the way my generation was raised and the way we lived our childhood. It could be just Egyptians, but I think this issue expands to touch people from most, if not all, places.
Anyway, let me tell you about the things I think are causing our decision making problem.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I try to find the reasons is the fact that we didn't have much choice as children. The parents made most of the decisions; what to eat or wear, where to go for fun, which school we attend, even which sports and activities we practice. All these things were, mostly, not up to the kids. Most parents didn't take their kid's opinions before cooking lunch or picking a place to go out, and some parents didn't even let the child pick his/her own clothes or even toys.
I don't want to say that these were all bad parents. However, they clearly didn't give much thought to, or weren't aware of, the effects of not giving their children the choice. They didn't think that giving kids the space to have an opinion regarding small matters like what to eat or wear was very important, and that not doing so can really impact their ability to make decisions later.
Nowadays, with all the studies and books on how to raise a human being, I see many young parents giving their tiny kids the choice, and that's great. But still, many other parents don't do that, and I wish I can reach them all and say please stop and think, give your kid the chance to choose, help them develop that skill because it's not so easy to acquire once you grow up.
Another factor is that as kids we are always asked to be polite and non demanding. We are told to accept what's on our plate, literally and metaphorically. Refusing to eat something was considered very bad behavior, and asking for other clothes, toys, or activities, different from the ones you have was considered ungrateful. I'm not saying you should give children whatever they want, but there is a difference between raising a brat and understanding that your child has a mind of his own and that there might be a reason why he or she needs different things and activities.
The third reason I could think of, and probably the one with the most impact on me, is how we were taught to make priorities. Many of the little joyful things weren't presented to us as priorities. Enjoying food or going out just to have fun were secondary things, way less important than other stuff like studying. We weren't encouraged to spend much thought or time on choosing the little things. So when we grew up and had the chance to choose them for ourselves it became difficult.
We were made to think that decisions are big things that will change your life. The decisions we were trained to face and encouraged to spend time on were the serious practical ones. We were made to believe that those serious decisions were fate determining. The daily life stuff didn't qualify as real decisions though they are; these small things are what makes all the difference in the quality of our lives and they might be even more important than the claimed big decisions in determining how happy we are.
Those were the things I could reach so far. I know there is more to this issue than what I mentioned, but I just wanted to share my thoughts here to be read by others who might be experiencing that daily choices struggle. I hope my words can provide a bit of an insight for understanding the reasons behind this and, just maybe, help a little.