By Jessica Reynolds
Whether it’s what to eat for breakfast, a doughnut or egg whites, or even what kind of car to buy, nearly all of our decisions will have some effect on our lives.
It’s the major decisions, though, involving careers, choosing a spouse, whether to have children, that will inevitably write our legacies.
And while it’s probably acceptable to buy a new shirt without seeking outside counsel, is it wise to completely change your life without letting loved ones weigh in?
“Because our relationships form such a critical fabric of our lives, it’s not only impossible to make a big decision without thinking of others, but it can be downright unhealthy,” said Holly Parker, a lecturer of psychology at Harvard University. “What ultimately matters is how much we allow others to impact our decision and why.”
Some of the most common decisions people solicit advice from loved ones about include whether to relocate, change careers, end or begin relationships, have children or get married, said Anita McLean, a clinical psychologist based in Princeton, N.J. Relocation is one of the biggest, she said, and the decision is especially problematic when someone is married with children.
McLean says it’s a good idea to reassess your values and needs before asking loved ones for advice. Once you decide what matters most to you, you will be able to speak more honestly and confidently with those whom your decision will directly affect.
We would all like to think we confront life‘s toughest choices with sound logic, but usually it’s our emotions at the helm.
“One of the things we know is that human beings are horrible in terms of relying on their emotions to make decisions, and yet almost all of our decisions are based on the emotions we feel about a situation,” said Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University and co-author of the new book, “The Upside of Your Dark Side: While Being Your Whole Self, Not Just Your ‘Good’ Self, Drives Success and Fulfillment” (Hudson Street Press), which explores the oft-overlooked benefits of negative feelings.