“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” – Michael McMillian.
I think one thing that is common among teenagers and young adults is that we have loads of decisions to make … but we don’t know how to make them.
“Should I quit this job?”
“Should I take a gap year to do some travelling?”
“Should I confess to my crush?”.
I know I personally have encountered many dilemmas in my life.
Sometimes dilemmas are dilemmas, but it doesn’t mean we have no choices. However, first, we need to learn to be present.
In General, there are Three Types of People
The first type of people tends to focus on the past. These people tend to say, “if only I did this…” “if only this happened…” “I should’ve done this…”. Fixation on the past produces pain. People who ruminate about the past tends to develop depression and guilt.
The second type of people tends to focus on the future. These people tend to say, “what if…” “What if I don’t get another job after I quit the current one?”. Fixation on the future produces fear. People who ruminate about the future develops anxiety and worries.
The third type is what we want to be, people who live in the present. Other than practising mindfulness, another way to live in the present is by living according to our values. According to Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), values are your heart’s deepest desires for how you want to behave as a human being. Values are not about what you want to get or achieve; they are about how you want to behave or act on an ongoing basis. You could easily google what your values are. ACT also helps individuals find out their values.
An interesting activity for if you are religious, for example, if you are a Christian. After you identify your values, you could see what the bible says about your value. Find verses that support or oppose your values!
What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?
Once we identify our values, for example, your values could be adventure, honesty, spirituality. We can then make choices based on our values. Maybe you were wondering if you should take a gap year to go travelling. If your top value is adventure, then taking a gap year might the best choice for you. Just know that making choices based on our values does not guarantee positive outcomes. All it does is to help us live in the present and know that in the future if we look back, we made the best decision we could’ve made in accordance with our values, so there is no need for any regret.
Always check in with yourself. Am I living according to my values this week? If not, how could I live more in line with my values?
It’s worth noting, though, whenever we come across a dilemma, not making a choice is still making a choice. Remember: “A choice I don’t make will be made for me.”
Author: Christopher Lee, B Psych Science (Hons); Masters of Psych (Clinical); MAPS
Christopher Lee is a Brisbane psychologist with a keen interest in helping teenagers and young adults with trauma, behavioural and relational issues. In addition to speaking English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently, Christopher uses evidence-based therapy techniques such as CBT, ACT, EFT, and DBT.
To make an appointment with Christopher Lee try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Loganholme on (07) 3067 9129 or Vision Psychology Wishart on (07) 3088 5422.